27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament Assembled.
The Petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
That they are gravely concerned at what they consider to be the adverse effect on moral standards in the Australian community of the increasing portrayal and description of obscenity, sexual licence, promiscuity and violence in films, books, magazines, plays and, to a lesser extent, television and radio programmes;
That their concern arises partly from the fact that historians such as J. D. Unwin and Arnold Toynbee have shown that nearly all nations which have perished have done so because of internal moral decay, and partly because obscenity and indecency are contrary to the teachings of Christianity which is the acknowledged religion of more than 80 per cent of Australians, besides being ‘part and parcel of the law of the land’ (Quick and Garran in ‘Commentaries on the Australian Constitution’, page 931); and
That, in accordance with the findings of the Australian Gallup Poll, published in the Melbourne Herald 14th November, 1969, the majority of Australian citizens want censorship either maintained or increased -
Your Petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should seek to ensure that Commonwealth legislation bearing on censorhip of films, literature and radio and television programmes is so framed and so administered as to preserve sound moral standards in the community.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present from 14 citizens of Victoria the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament Assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Victoria respectfully showeth,
That due to higher living costs, persons on social service pensions, are finding it extremely difficult to live in even the most frugal way. A parity allowance should be paid to pensioners in remote areas.
We therefore call upon the Commonwealth Government to increase the base pension rate to 30 per cent of the average weekly male earnings all states plus supplementary assistance and allowances in accordance with the A.C.T.U. policy and adopted as the policy of the Australian Pensioners’ Federation and by so doing give a reasonably moderate pension.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled, will take immediate steps to bring about the wishes expressed in our petition: so that our citizens who are receiving the social service pensions may live their lives in dignity and your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present from 1941 residents of Australia the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament Assembled.
The Petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
That they are gravely concerned at what they consider to be the adverse effect on moral standards in the Australian community of the increasing portrayal and description of obscenity, sexual licence, promiscuity and violence in films books, magazines, plays and, to a lesser extent, television and radio programmes.
That their concern arises partly from the fact that historians such as J. D. Unwin and Arnold Toynbee have shown that nearly all nations which have perished have done so because of internal moral decay; and partly because obscenity and indecency are contrary to the teachings of Christianity which is the acknowledged religion of more than 80 per cent of Australians, besides being ‘part and parcel of the law of the land’ (Quick and Garran in ‘Commentaries on the Australian Constitution.’ Page 9S1); and
That, in accordance with the findings of the Australian gallup poll, published in the Melbourne Herald’, 14th November 1969, the majority of Australian citizens want censorship either maintained or increased.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should seek to ensure that Commonwealth legislation bearing on censorship of films, literature and radio and television programmes is so framed and so administered as to preserve sound moral standards in the community.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– 1 present from 1373 residents of Australia the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament Assembled.
The Petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
That they are gravely concerned at what they consider to be the adverse effect on moral standards in the Australian community of the increasing portrayal and description of obscenity, sexual licence, promiscuity and violence in films, books, magazines, plays and, to a lesser extent, television and radio programmes;
Thai their concern arises partly from the fact that historians such as J. D. Unwin and Arnold Toynbee have shown that nearly all nations which have perished have done so because of internal moral decay; and partly because obscenity and indecency are contary to the teachings of Christianity which is the acknowledged religion of more than 80 per cent of Australians, besides being ‘part and parcel of the law of the land’ (Quick and Garran in ‘Commentaries on the Australian Constitution’, Page 951); and
That, in accordance with the findings of the Australian gallup poll, published in the Melbourne Herald’, 14th November 1969, the majority of Australian citizens want censorship either maintained or increased.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate, in Parliament assembled, should seek to ensure that Commonwealth legislation bearing on censorship of films, literature aDd radio and television programmes is so framed and se administered as to preserve sound moral standards in the community.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
– I’ give notice that tomorrow I intend to move:
That the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: Development of the port of Darwin, Northern Territory.
I give notice that I shall also move:
That in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969 the following proposed work bc referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report’. Provision of forty transportable houses and one class room in the township of Exmouth to serve the Royal Australian Air Force Base, Learmonth, Western Australia.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs read the caustic comment by the Auditor-General and a leading article in the Sydney Press on the huge expenditure of $57,000 for renovations, $77,000 for fittings and furniture, and over $9,000 for lawyers’ fees in respect of a flat for a government official in New York? The amount paid is now $135,000, and it is still rising. I ask the same question that the leading article in the Press asked: How can the Government justify such expenditure when it. claims that it can afford only 50c a week for our pensioners, the majority of whom are living in poverty?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONf did see the leading article and the reference to expenditure on, I take it, the residence of the Consul in New York. The details of the expenditure would have to be related to the work which was actually done. As regards the second part of his question, the honourable senator has to understand that if we are to have Australian representatives overseas, whether they are in New York, Moscow or anywhere else, we have to provide establishments which are consistent with the status of the particular offices. The greatest injury that could be done to Australia’s image-
– What about these unfortunate people?
The honourable senator is attempting to make a political issue out of something that has not any relation to politics at all. The point I was making, and I shall repeat it, is that if we are to have Australian representatives overseas, if we believe that Australia, as a primary producing and exporting country, needs to have representatives overseas, the greatest damage that we can do to Australia is to have these representatives housed in establishments which are below the dignity and status of their offices and which are pathetic when compared with the establishments of representatives of other countries. In the very highly competitive world in which we live, no greater damage can be done to Australia’s future, or to ite development and progress, than by providing such unworthy establishments.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, relates to the Kimba-Polda water scheme on Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. Can the Minister give any information regarding the Government’s consideration of the submission made by the South Australian Engineering and Water Supply Department in connection with the scheme?
– I have only general information on this subject. I understand that the submission is being examined by the Department of National Development and that it is not yet in a position to say when it will reach a final conclusion. But I shall address the question asked by the honourable senator from South Australia to the Department with a request that it provide us with an answer as soon as possible.
– Could the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs give us details of the attack by Communist forces on a Vietnam orphanage, resulting in injury and death to the children concerned? Does the Minister think that the leaders of those responsible for the attack should be invited to Australia to participate in the Moratorium campaign?
– Along with all other Australians, 1 read the report of this shocking tragedy in Vietnam, in which innocent people in an election area were subjected to bombing and no fewer than 42 civilians were killed. Some of those killed were children who were in an orphanage. I think all the world would be appalled that this should happen. It would be completely unthinkable to invite representatives of the Vietcong to Australia. I would think that those people in the Australian community who have chosen to speak with the North Vietnamese or Vietcong flag flying behind them should think seriously about the matter, too.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport aware that shipping freight rates on wool to the United Kingdom and Europe increase by 4 per cent from today and that it is estimated that such an increase will cost wool growers an extra $4m a year? Can the Minister explain why the provisions of the Trade Pracrices Act were not invoked in an attempt to prevent such increases?
– I am sure that the honourable senator will understand that I share his concern about the increase in shipping freights. I am unable at the moment to say why parts of the Trade Practices Act were not invoked. All I can do for him is to direct that part of his question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport with a request that he provide us with some information.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. At what time did Trans-Australia Airlines flight 507 depart from Perth on Thursday, 27th August 1970? Did it arrive in Adelaide at approximately 9 p.m. that night? Were there a number of passengers on that flight who were booked through to Sydney on connecting flight 521? Were these passengers off-loaded at Adelaide and accommodated at the Grosvenor Hotel overnight? Was their journey interrupted because flight 521 was booked out with passengers from Adelaide? If not, what was the cause of the interruption?
– Quite obviously it would be impossible for me to have the answer to that question in my head. Nonetheless I am glad to have the query. I shall address it to the responsible airline this afternoon. I hope to have an answer for the honourable senator soon.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. As the automobile associations in Australia are co-operative non-profit organisations which play a big part in educating motorists in safe driving practices and road traffic problems with the publication of a journal, will the PostmasterGeneral consider placing such organisations in bulk postage category A, which would allow them a cheaper postage rate and so avoid increased costs which can only be reflected in higher membership fees to the average motorist?
– I know that concern has been felt by the organisations mentioned by the honourable senator. I believe that this afternoon the Postmaster-General, at the request of the National Roads and Motorists Association in Canberra, is meeting the General Secretary of the NRMA and the General Manager of the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria concerning this very matter. I cannot give any further information at this stage.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. What action is contemplated against the operators of a vessel responsible for the 2-acre oil slick which menaces the penguin colony on Five Islands adjacent to Wollongong? Furthermore, in the light of the ‘Oceanic Grandeur’ episode, what action is the Minister taking to ensure that in such events the best cleaning agent is used and not that which happens to be the product of the offending oil company? Why have immediate tests not been made of Polycomplex A-1 1, which is favourably regarded by conservationists as being noninjurious to marine life?
– Like the honourable senator 1 have had my concern about this episode. 1 have gathered together some information, but none of it appears to me to answer satisfactorily the detailed question asked by the honourable senator. Therefore, in fairness to both him and the Minister who is responsible, 1 think we had better have an accurate reply to all these matters prepared in some detail.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Was the Minister’s attention drawn to the recent, report in the Press that the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) had stated that the international moratorium conference on the Indo-China war to be held in Sydney had been postponed from next month to January 1971 because of insufficient support from overseas? Can the Minister indicate whether this report means that the organisers have not yet received their funds from Hanoi, or does it simply indicate a waning in the momentum of the Communist propaganda war?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI would not have any ideas as to the motives for postponing or withholding the proposed international conference. I can rely only on what I have read in the newspapers and Dr Cairns was reported to have said that the reason was that no-one wanted to come to Australia from those areas. That is my understanding of the report, but since 1 am relying only on what I have read I cannot contribute anything further in answer to the question.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Army to make a statement explaining the explosion at the El Alamein army camp in South Australia involving a number of school cadets. Will the Minister comment on the statement published in the Adelaide News’ of 28th August by one injured cadet, Anthony Cox, that shells were lying around everywhere - lots of them?
– 1 cannot comment on that. At the present time this matter is under investigation. When the investigation is completed I will consult the Minister for the Army to ascertain the position.
– I ask the
Minister for Civil Aviation whether he is aware that both Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett Airlines of Australia habitually over-book passengers on flights from Port Moresby to Australian ports? Is he aware that passengers holding tickets for a flight to Australia may find on arrival at the airport ready for their flight that they have no seats on the plane because of allocations made to other passengers also holding bookings? Does he not consider this is due to maladministration or inefficiency and ought not to occur? ls the Minister prepared to take the necessary action to put a stop to the practice?
– If what the honourable senator has said is true I shall certainly take the matter up and see what is happening. To me it seems inconceivable that 2 airlines would constantly over-book and then put passengers off. But 1 shall take the question as it is given to me and have immediate inquiries made about this.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Supply. I preface the question by reminding the Minister that a large amount of material which pours into South Vietnam from America frequently finds its way to the black market. I ask the Minister: What is the total value of Australian military equipment for South Vietnam which does not reach its proper destination and is consequently sold on the black market in that country?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONIf I understand the honourable senator’s question he wants a statement which would set out quantitatively the amount of equipment that is supplied from Australia to Vietnam and which finds its way to the black market. Is that the question?
– In terms of value.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI think that would be a completely impossible question to answer. Without delay I shall certainly obtain in terms of value, if possible, the type of equipment that we are sending to Service personnel in South Vietnam from Australia. As to the rest of the question, who can make a judgment as to what goes out of the Services? If I can use an expression which was used in the days when I was in the Army: If somebody flogs a hat, how does one keep a record of that? The honourable senator understands the language I am using. If some person in the Service decides to dispose of part of his equipment - this has not been unknown in the Army ever since the beginning of time - how does one make an assessment as to whether that goes to the black market or whether the soldier gives it away as a matter of charity to someone who does not have a hat? The honourable senator is asking an impossible question.
– I wish to ask a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate who represents the Minister for Defence. Is it a fact that at the week-end the Soviet Union established a military garrison at the former British crown colony of Socotra at the mouth of the Red Sea? If so, with Russian fleet facilities in the Andaman Islands and in Mauritius, does the Government see a rising threat to Our vital trade sea lanes in the Indian Ocean arising from the Russian presence? Will this lead to an acceleration of our activities in defence measures so far as they concern the Indian Ocean trade routes?
– The honourable senator asks a most comprehensive question. I am sure that he and the Senate will agree that it would be unwise for me to answer it at question time without reference to the Department of Defence. The implications of his question are quite significant. I ask the honourable senator to place his question on notice. I will refer it to the Minister for External Affairs for consideration.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise. Is the Minister aware that on Saturday last successful street demonstrations were held in Sydney and in other capital cities sponsored by the Kangaroo Protection Committee seeking bans on the sale of kangaroo meat for commercial purposes and the export of all kangaroo products from Australia? Can the Minister give an assurance that, pending either a final determination by the House of Representatives Select Committee on Wildlife or a summit meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers responsible for conservation laws to decide on a common policy on this issue, immediate bans will be imposed on the export of kangaroo meat as was suggested by the organisation I have mentioned?
– The question is in two parts. The first part, as I understand it, concerns the export of kangaroo and wallaby products and controls that might be imposed. The responsible Minister in the House of Representatives has said that such controls would be impossible to police. Controls are imposed on the export of kangaroo hides and the animals themselves. The second part of the question properly comes within the ambit of the Minister for Education and Science who is responsible for the co-ordination of inquiries and for conferences such as those referred to by the honourable senator. I suggest to the honourable senator that he might put his question on notice so that any additional information that might help him may be obtained.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is the Minister aware that there is a great deal of concern in the wool industry because of a lack of information regarding average prices for wool sold since the commencement of the wool selling season which, among other things, is causing uncertainty and a lack of confidence in the store sheep market? Can the Minister give any information regarding the average prices for wool sold during the first 2 weeks of sales? Will he use his influence to ensure that the Australian Wool Marketing Corporation publishes at the end of each week the average price for wool sold at auction, including wool sold under the price averaging plan?
– I am well aware of the concern in the wool industry at the present time over the price of wool. The industry has every right to be concerned because current prices are the lowest paid for about 20 years. I feel sure that the honourable senator is well aware that the price averaging plan commenced operations within the marketing set-up in July and this plan became operative during the sales that commenced in Sydney and Melbourne on 17th August. In the past the brokers association has been responsible for putting out the weekly average price for wool, but under the price averaging plan for wool selling the Australian Wool Marketing Corporation Ltd is responsible for up to about 40 per cent of the wool; thus the brokers are not in a position to give the average price for weekly sales. Although the price averaging plan has been in operation for only a few weeks I can readily understand the problems which arise. I shall certainly discuss with the Minister for Primary Industry the honourable senator’s question and see whether we can’t get the Corporation to make available these weekly average prices.
– J direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport a question which relates to the increase of 4 per cent in wool freight rates charged by the United KingdomContinent shipping consortia, which will cost the Australian wool industry millions of dollars. I ask: Did the Minister or the shipper groups make any investigations of the possibility of using outside shipping services? If so, what were the results of such investigation?
– I understand that some investigations were made. I am not aware of the full details of those investigations. The honourable senator has asked an important question. I think it should be directed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, and I shall ensure that this happens.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Did operators in the Adelaide telephone exchange tape trunk line calls which were not of a business nature, as has been alleged by the Secretary of the South Australian branch of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union of Australia? Had taping occurred for some considerable time before the recent taping which was admitted to have occurred as part of a marketing survey?
– As I believe that the honourable senator’s question should receive a detailed reply, 1 ask him to put it on the notice paper.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that the Commonwealth has refused to issue a visa for entry into Australia to the famous and highly respected American negro and anti-war satirist Dick Gregory, who was coming to Australia as one of the main speakers at the Vietnam Moratorium Conference to be held in Sydney on 18th, 19th and 20th of this month? Was the Government’s refusal to grant a visa to this well known American politically inspired? Will the Government state on what grounds it was refused? Will the Government give instructions immediately for a review of the refusal?
The honourable senator has directed this question to me as the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I take it that he did so with intent. Normally such a question would be referred to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. I am not aware of any of the circumstances associated with the refusal to grant to Mr Gregory a visa to enter Australia. Therefore I think the question should be directed on notice to the Minister for Immigration, who no doubt will examine it and through his representative in this place, the Minister for Housing, give a considered reply.
(Question No. 538)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 499)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
How many members of Federal Parliament have their private telephone rent and call charges paid by the Commonwealth.
– The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Commonwealth does not pay rent or call charges for the private telephones of any member of Parliament.
There are however, six members of Parliament who have arranged their own electorate offices and some of these electorate offices also serve as the members’ private business offices. In a few cases members’ electorate offices are located at their homes. The Commonwealth pays the rent and call charges for a telephone provided in these six cases, just as it does in the case of telephones available to all other members of Parliament in their Commonwealth-provided electorate offices.
These six telephones are provided for electorate purposes and cannot be regarded as the members’ private telephones. All are in fact registered in the name of the Commonwealth.
Do the figures released by the Commonwealth Statistician yesterday show that 15,000 new house) and flats were approved in July 1969 at a cost al S249m whereas in July 1970 11,100 wen approved at a cost of $255m? Can the Minister inform the Senate whether these figures are correct and, if they are, what is the reason for the great disparity in the two cost figures?
The answer to the honourable senator’s questions is as follows:
The 15,029 new houses and flats approved for erection in July 1969 were estimated to cost $138.3m - not $249m which was the total value of all buildings approved in that month. The 11,180 new houses and flats approved in July 1970 are estimated to cost $112. lm - not S255m which is the total value of buildings approved in July this year. Between these two periods, the average cost of dwellings approved rose from about $9,200 to just over $10,000. But the latter figure includes a higher proportion of cottages which, on average, cost more than flats. Whilst the cost of the average dwelling has certainly risen between July 1969 and July 1970, the July 1970 figure of average cost of both houses and fiats has been greatly increased by the very much higher proportion of cottages in the total.
(Question No. 545)
asked the Minister for Air, upon notice:
Will the Minister take the necessary steps to have a helicopter stationed at the Townsville RAAF Base, to be on call when required during floods or similar emergencies; if so, when.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Due to operational commitments it is not possible to station a helicopter permanently at the Townsville RAAF Base. However, you are assured that RAAF helicopters are available to react promptly in response to any request for support in the Townsville area in respect of floods or similar emergencies.
(Question No. 560)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
Will the 200 Northern Territory Housing Commission homes, to be built at Jigili and Moil, suburbs of Darwin, be available only for white tenants, or is it the intention of the Department to make some of the homes available for rental or purchase by aborigines.
– The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The houses will be allotted in order of priority to applicants on the Housing Commission’s waiting list. In considering applications, the Commission does not distinguish between applicants of different races.
(Question No. S63)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
As the Commonwealth car pool at Canberra is seriously undermanned, both in relation to staff and vehicles and, because of this, local taxis are required to do many thousands of trips each year with Commonwealth passengers, thus causing frequent inconvenience to the civilian population of Canberra through long waiting period for taxis, will the Minister have action taken to rectify the situation; if so, what action.
– The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Department has engaged consultants to examine the operations of the Passenger Car Service in Canberra. An analysis of all the work undertaken by or on behalf of the Department over a 6 weeks period is being made and the ultimate aim is to determine the proper level of drivers and vehicles needed to maintain a sufficient standard of service consistent with economy of operation. The examination will cover the use of taxis for departmental work.
(Question No. 369)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The AttorneyGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
As stated by the Commissioner in the conclusion to his review of the first three years of his operations, initial progress has been made in dealing with restrictive agreements, and lo a lesser extent with restrictive practices.
Partly because the validity of the Trade Practices Tribunal was under constitutional challenge - a challenge that proved to bc unsucessfu - for three-quarters of the year under review in the Commissioner’s third report, there have been no cases argued before the Trade Practices Tribunal so far.
However, in a number of cases restrictions on competition have been lifted by the parties lo restrictive agreements, after consultations with the Commissioner.
(Question No. 370)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice: jj
Has the Trade Practices Act succeeded substantially in preventing collusive tendering agreements; if so, (a) in what parts of trade and commerce has it succeeded; (b) in what part; has it failed; and (c) what are the reasons for the failure.
– The AttorneyGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I have received a number of complaints of collusive tendering but have not yet instituted any prosecution proceedings in respect of such an offence. In most cases, full and accurate particulars of the collusive tendering agreements have been contained in the Register of Trade Agreements kept by the Commissioner of Trade Practices. The Act makes this a defence in most circumstances. In other cases there has been insufficient evidence to warrant the institution of proceedings. Other cases are under consideration at present
The Commissioner of Trade Practices discusses the relationship between the collusive tendering provisions of the Act and the provisions relating to the registration and examination of agreements in his Third Annual Report, Chapters 2 and 3.
(Question No. 371)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
Has the Trade Practices Act succeeded substantially in preventing collusive bidding agreements; If so (a) in what areas has it succeeded; (b) in what areas has it failed and (c) what are the reasons for the failure.
– The AttorneyGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Trade Practices Act, section 86, makes collusive bidding an offence in circumstances similar to those applying to collusive tendering (see my answer to Question No. 370). No complaints of collusive bidding have been made to me to date. For further information as to the operation of the Act in this regard reference may be made to the Third Annual Report of the Commissioner of Trade Practices, in particular Chapter 2, paragraphs 26 to 28.
(Question No. 391)
SenatorWRIEDT asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice: (1.) Does the Commonwealth provide financial assistance to the Australian Innovation Corporation.
– The Minister for Education and Science has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 548)
asked the Minister for
Works, upon notice:
Did some officers of the Commonwealth Department of Works in Queensland intimidate building workers who took partin the twenty-four hour stoppage on 17 May, 1970, by threatening them that,if they took part in the stoppage, sections of the Crimes Act would be used against them; if so, which sections ofthe Crimes Act were to be used in these circumstances.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The Queensland Branch of the Commonwealth Department of Works has no knowledge of the incident. However, if the honourable senator would care to give me specific details, I will make further enquiries and let him know the outcome.
(Question No. 372)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The AttorneyGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Other practices of monopolisation have been modified, as a result of consultations with the Commissioner. I refer the honourable senator to Chapter 2, paragraphs 38 to 42 of the Commissioner’s Third Annual Report.
– I lay on the table texts of the undermentioned treaties to which Australia has become a party by signature:
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, I present the report relating to the following proposed work:
Engineering Services to Sub-Divisions of Racecourse West, Morris Soak and Bradshaw Drive at Alice Springs, Northern Territory.
– by leave - I have today circulated to all honourable senators a document entitled Senate Estimates Committees, Proposed Procedures’. Included in this document will be found a suggested timetable for the sittings of the Estimates committees and also a memorandum of the suggested procedure in the committees. It is hoped that the general debate on the Budget Papers will be concluded this week and I propose, at the conclusion of that debate, to move a formal motion for the reference of the Estimates to the 5 Estimates committees. Then, when the Senate resumes on 15th September after next week’s adjournment period, the Estimates committees will be in a position to commence their consideration of the Estimates.
The suggested timetable for the sittings of the Estimates committees is not put forward in any conclusive way, because it is appreciated that the sittings of the committees must fit in with the other work of the Senate. Nevertheless, it would greatly facilitate the orderly functioning of the committees if some such timetable could be agreed upon in principle and adhered to as closely as possible. By circulating these documents at this stage, honourable senators will have an opportunity to consider the proposed timetable and suggested procedures of the committees. Then, when motion is made later this week for the reference of the Estimates to the committees, there will be an opportunity for honourable senators to express any points of view and put forward any further suggestions if they so desire.
– by leave - I thank the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) for forecasting that a motion will be moved later this week. I direct the attention of all honourable- senators to the document to which he has referred because we will want advice on the proposal. From the quick look that I have had at the document it appears that those pages from page 11 onwards which relate to times are the operative pages. While the Minister was speaking I was wondering whether this should not contain some reference to Hansard, but on second thoughts I realise that towards the end of the week, after we have obtained the consensus of the Senate, will be the ideal time to deal with that aspect. I rose merely to emphasise that all honourable senators should give their attention to this matter between now and the end of this week.
– by leave - I would be grateful if the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) could clarify just what is the proposed object of the debate that will proceed on this motion after the conclusion of the debate on the Budget Papers. This would be a matter for major and detailed consideration, and unless the whole of the machinery were laid down at that time we might well find ourselves referring matters to the committees with a short time available and the machinery not yet in operation or established. So, I wonder whether the Minister would be good enough to indicate just how far that debate will go and just what we will be trying to conclude; in other words, whether the whole of the organisation and the machinery will be decided when this motion comes up for debate and whether decisions will be made so that when we come back after the short recess we can go forward immediately with the references to the committees - the machinery, the procedures and the time schedules then being known.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Supply) - by leave - The reason why I am circulating this document today is that I would not want the Senate to have a preempted debate on these procedures before 1 move the relevant motion. In fact, the motion that I will move is to be found at page 11 of the document that has been circulated. It is the normal motion for reference of the Estimates to the Committee. It is hoped - perhaps it is a vain hope on my part - that by presenting this document and everybody working it over in his own way between now and when I move this motion, which will probably be on Thursday afternoon, sufficient of the machinery will have been forecast and the proposed timetable will be such that this will be considered and accepted as being the normal modus operandi. If the Senate, in its judgment, thinks otherwise, when I move the motion the Senate will use it as the vehicle to alter the procedure. Honourable senators will see that on the first page of the document 1 have said: lt is hoped that the Senate will be in a position to commence the committee consideration on the Estimates on 15th September and the proposed timetable has been prepared on that basis. The timetable, however, must of course remain subject to the will of the Senate.
It will determine the matter. I am putting forward a set of proposals after reference to the President and with the very good offices and tremendous help of Mr Odgers and his staff. I am hoping that when we come to Thursday the Senate will accept this procedure, but the Senate can change it if it wants to.
– At what time on Thursday do you think this may come on for debate?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI hope that it will come on for debate on Thursday afternoon. We will deal with General Business after 8 o’clock on Thursday night. When we come to the question of the placing of business, I propose to speak to the Senate on that aspect.
Senator BYRNE (Queensland)- by leave - I am concerned because this is a very difficult document and one that will take a lot of discussion. I imagine that many suggestions on it could be made because it deals wilh the powers of chairmen, the functions of chairmen, the mode of reporting and the form of reports; and, unless all these matters are concluded on Thursday afternoon so that the Estimates then stand ready for reference to the committees on resolution of the Senate, no machinery will be operating. I strongly doubt whether there will be adequate time for the Senate to discuss and reach conclusions on a document of this complexity and this nature in the few hours that will be available on Thursday afternoon. That is my concern. If that is not done, we will have no machinery available when we resume after the short recess and when the matters will then stand referred to the committees. The point that concerns me is the time schedule for the discussion of this document.
– 1 understand that. The honourable senator will appreciate that we must agree to the motion to lake note of the Budget Papers before we deal with this motion. That is a limiting factor as to when we can begin to debate it. I will give as much time as I can.
I realise that on Thursday night the Democratic Labor Party has a General Business item to be discussed. I think, from what has been suggested to me, that members of the DLP will co-operate and set aside their General Business priority to bring on and dispose of these motions. It is not in our very best interests to have stood over matters which affect our internal affairs when, naturally, strong points of view are held on such matters.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONYes. I intend to move one motion in relation to times of speeches, one in relation to the time allotted for urgency motions, and one for the incorporation in Hansard of questions on notice.
– by leave - I move:
The Committee has an urgent reference and it is desired that it should meet on Thursday. It has to take evidence on that day. Consistent with what is done in special cases such as that, I have moved accordingly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 26 August (vide page 286), on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson:
That the Senate take note of the following papers:
Civil Works Programme 1970-71.
Commonwealth Payments to or for the States, 1970-71.
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for the year ending 30th June 1971.
Particular of proposed Expenditure for the Service of the year ending 30th June 1971.
Particulars of Proposed Provision for Certain Expenditure in respect of the year ending 30th June 1971.
Government Securities on Issue at 30th June 1970.
Commonwealth Income Tax Statistics for Income year 1967-68.
National Income and Expenditure, 1969-70
Upon which Senator Murphy had moved by way of amendment:
At end of motion add “, and the Senate condemns this deceptive and negative Budget because it fails to meet the real needs of the Australian people, especially with respect to (a) standards of social service and war pensioners, (b) assistance to schools, hospital and urban authorities and (c) restructuring of stricken primary industries and because it introduces and increases taxes and charges of a regressive and inequitable nature”. -
– When the debate on the Budget was adjourned last week I had spent 10 minutes mainly in replying to some criticism that bad been levelled at the Opposition’s presentation of its opposition to the Budget proposals. I do not want to go further into that. It is noteworthy that the Budget has not received ready acceptance by any section of the community. There have been protests from the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the pensioners’ association, the manufacturers’ association and the wine industry. Most sections of industry have opposed the Budget. As was reported in the Adelaide Press last week, the Young Liberal League of South Australia, which represents the youth of the
Liberal Party of South Australia, has also protested against the miserable increase given to pensioners in this Budget. Today the Government Whip presented a petition which fully expressed the terms of the resolution carried by the Young Liberal League in South Australia, that the Budget does not give satisfaction and fails to provide justice for Australian pensioners.
The Government, when faced with this widespread criticism, makes no attempt to justify the Budget but concentrates on condemning the ACTU for calling a demonstration on the day on which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) opened his attack on the Budget. Of course, this was designed to direct the spotlight on the alleged unlawful activities of the ACTU rather than on, I would say, the more criminal decision of the Government to deprive pensioners of a decent standard of living. The ACTU places as much importance on this Budget us it does upon an application to an arbitration court which seeks wage justice or a fair share of the wealth which its members help to produce in Australia. If the ACTU succeeds to any extent in the arbitration court, the result of its success is valueless if the Budget either takes away what the court has granted or imposes taxes which will erode the gains which the ACTU has obtained through Arbitration, lt is very little use the ACTU lodging a claim for increased wages if any increases which it obtains are to be used only for the purpose of paying taxes to the Government Treasury.
On the question of arbitration, the ACTU saw the significance of this process of erosion until now the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has not been prepared to take into consideration the profit of an industry as a basis for wage fixation. The Commission was prepared to use only the gross national product as a basis for wage fixation. But in the current oil industry case it has now agreed to consider the profitability of an industry for the purpose of wage fixation. There are 2 methods by which to distribute the wealth of Australia. One is by the arbitration tribunal ensuring that those who in the main produce the wealth for Australia, the working people, receive a fair share of that wealth. A lot of difficulties are involved in considering the profitability of an industry in wage fixation, because the process can operate to the disadvantage of those who are employed in less profitable industries or industries which employ smaller numbers of people - a weaker section of the trade union movement.
As the Arbitration Commission has adopted the attitude of granting general wage increases based on general productivity, there would be some justification for the Government adopting an evening-up process by reducing the high rate of income or the returns on investment that may be obtained in one particular industry so that the financing of the Administration could be spread fairly over industry in general. We might then see the Government, as part of an arbitration system, imposing taxation in order to try to equalise the distribution of wealth in Australia. But as the Government has failed lamentably in this direction, the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission now finds it necessary in order to give wage justice to enter a field which should be a matter for government - that is, a consideration of the profitability of industry and the placing of some of the profitability of industry in the hands of those who create the profit. This is a matter of concern to the Australian Council of Trade Unions. When the Commission awarded an increase in general or to those engaged in one industry and the increase was taken away by Government legislation, it became a matter of sufficient importance, in view of the Federal Executive of the ACTU, for there to be a demonstration such as was held cm Tuesday of last week.
Last week about 200,000 people stopped work as part of this demonstration. While it is true that the attendance at the actual site of the demonstration was small during the 3 hours that it continued, we must recognise that we are entering an era in which a demonstration is the in thing. Today people are demonstrating because of what: they consider to be injustices, and the ACTU is no exception. In the future we will see more demonstrations on more issues. Last week the ACTU exercised its right to demonstrate. Sections of the trade union movement knew that the demonstration could not be successful unless their members were requested to cease work for the afternoon. The requests were issued as part of the fight by the ACTU to protect the welfare of its members.
– It cost them more money because they did not get paid.
– Possibly, but it was a good form of protest against the Budget. Although on this occasion stopping work cost them more it did not cause much disruption to industry; but a repetition of such a Budget and the same sincerity on the part of the trade union movement to protect the interests of the workers whom it represents will in future impose a cost on many people other than workers. It will dislocate industry and will seriously affect the public. But this is one of the things we have to put up with if the Government will not accept its responsibility and will not distribute more fairly the wealth of this country.
If we look at the report of the Taxation Branch for 1968-69 we find set out information which shows that 73 per cent of the taxpayers receive 53.04 per cent of the taxable income in Australia. That means that 26 per cent of the taxpayers receive 47 per cent of the taxable income. This is the way that wealth is distributed under this Government’s administration. In analysing what the Government has done I start on what is perhaps a false premise by assuming that Government expenditure of $7,883m this year is necessary. In doing so I remind the Senate that I support the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition in this place (Senator Murphy) who pinpointed some expenditure which was not necessary, notably, the cost of our involvement in Vietnam. But let us assume that the Government is taking the responsibility for the defence and administration of Australia and that it finds that the expenditure is necessary. Let us assume that in maintaining or increasing the flow of funds into the Treasury it was necessary to look at the average weekly wages, which had increased by more than 8 per cent over the last 12 months, and at the consumer price index, which had increased by about 5 per cent.
The Government could in no way produce a budget to give an impetus to demand. It is afraid of the inflationary trend because of those instances I have given and it was necessary to increase expenditure over last year by some $795ra. The Department of Defence vote has increased by 3.1 per cent over last year.
The expenditure on social services has increased from Si 57m to SI 82m over the year. If we recognise all this and if we recognise the increase of 5 per cent that has occurred over the 12 months in the consumer price index; the result of increasing pensions by some 3 per cent is that the pension has less purchasing power today than it had at the time of the Budget of 12 months ago.
– Senator, would you give the figures which you ascribed to social services again?
– My figures are difficult to understand as I have written them down but the expenditure on social services, national health services, repatriation services and housing benefits are estimated to increase by SI 57m to $ 1,820m. Details are given in statement No. 10 which is attached to the Budget Speech. While we agree that some increase of 3 per cent has occurred in the pension the pensioner must be worse off today than he was 12 months ago. That is what pensioners are complaining about today. In his Budget Speech, under the the heading ‘Assistance to Industry’, the Treasurer (Mr Bury) stated:
Commonwealth payments to or on behalf of industry are expected to reach S272m in 1970-71, $81m more than last year.
I do not know to whom the full amount of assistance covered last year in research grants, etc. went, but if we look at the assistance to industry we find that that assistance went to wealthy companies. In today’s Press we read that Mount Isa Mines Ltd admits doubling its profit over the last year. That company received a 100 per cent increase but the pensioner received a 3 per cent increase although the consumer price index rose by 5 per cent. Mount Isa Mines Ltd is possibly not as big as some of the other profit making companies. This year the Government will pay some $272m to industry but the expenditure relating to rural industries is estimated at $2 15m, or $77m more than last year. The assistance provided to industry is estimated at $81m more than last year. Compared with the big investment interests in Australia which are receiving assistance from this Government the rural industries are missing out. This Government is not giving to the rural industries what it is giving to industry generally. This year the Government seeks to raise the amount needed for expenditure by increasing Post Office receipts by $42m, or $53m for a full year. It is increasing postal charges, telephone rentals and telephone connection fees. This makes somewhat humorous Senator Webster’s appreciation in this debate of the reduction of connection fees or the supplying of lines in outback areas to some farming communities. The Treasurer said in his Budge: Speech:
Post Office policy on the provision of telephone services in country districts has been reviewed. With effect from January 1969 the Post Office will provide rural subscribers with a greater length of line than previously, so reducing the amount subscribers are required to finance. A statement in more detail will be made on this.
There has been continual agitation in rural areas about the cost incurred by a person who wants to install a telephone and who is situated some distance from a main telephone line. We are told that there will be some reduction in his costs although we are not told the amount. However, this reduction will mean an increase in telephone rent charges and telephone connection fees, and we should consider whether there will be an effective reduction at all or whether this is really shifting the burden to another section of the community. We are also told that licensing fees for radio communication services will be increased from $2 to something between $6 and $10 a year and that this will bring in additional revenue of about $620,000 in a full year. We have been told that telephone rents are to increase by $7 per annum and that postage fees will increase.
The Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) in the paper he tabled prior to presenting his speech on the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill 1970 stated that the Post Office did not incur any loss in telephone communications over the last year. The Minister set out the provisional estimates of trading results for 1969-70 and the forecast results for 1970-71. After taking into consideration proposed tariff adjustments it is expected that the loss in postal will be $9m in 1970-71.’ In 1969-70 there was a profit of $23m on telecommunications and for 1970-71 it is expected that there will be a profit of $39m. Therefore the increase in telecommunication charges is being imposed for the sole pur pose of inducing a higher profit in telecommunication services in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and the increase in postage is being imposed for the purpose of reducing the extent of the loss on that service. If we deduct the loss on postal services last year from the profit on telecommunication services we get a net profit of $4m. We should ask ourselves this question: ‘If the Treasurer wants extra finance is it desirable that more money be provided by those who own telephones, particularly people such as invalids who need a telephone for the purpose of obtaining medical attention in an emergency?’ If deficiencies are to be made up should the people with telephones be made to provide the extra money rather than other sections of the community, such as the private industrial section? The loss incurred on registered newspapers and periodicals posted at concessional rates accounted for about half the estimated postal trading loss in 1969-70. Of the 158 million copies of 7,600 registered newspapers and magazines which were posted in 1969-70 about 75 million were charged only between ic and lc each for postage. In other words, telephone connection fees, broadcasting and television licence fees, and telephone charges and rentals have been increased to subsidise the postage of registered newspapers and magazines at concessional rates. The general public is once again financing the business interests which are sending out these publications.
Senator Young today raised the position of the Royal Automobile Association of South Australia Incorporated, which has pointed out in correspondence to me and I presume to other honourable senators that the proposed new rate will more than double its existing postage expenses, lt appears that its postal expenditure will increase by approximately $22,000 per annum from $17,000 to $39,000. Apparently its postage does not come within category A, which will increase by 20 per cent. As the Royal Automobile Association points out in its letter, it is mainly a body which is providing a service to motorists. The Post Office is subsidising the service which it provides to business houses at concessional rates by the handsome profit it is making out of its telephone services. The Postmaster-General has stated that it is estimated that telecommunication earnings will rise by 15 per cent in 1970-71 and expenses will be up 12.2 per cent with an expected trading profit of $3-9m. Is the $39m to be absorbed in the providing of cheap concession rates to business houses so that they can post their journals and catalogues to consumers?
Can it be that losses have been incurred by the Postal Department as a result of the stupid administration? I do not know what the taping of private telephone conversations at the Adelaide telephone exchange would have cost the Department. This is something which was frowned upon by the Postmaster-General; nevertheless it was allowed to happen and it appears from the answer to a question I asked today that it has been happening for a long time. I shall quote from an article concerning the Budget which appeared in one of the gossip columns of the Adelaide ‘News’ of 29th August 1970:
Linda Billington, who works at North Unley, says her office has received 7 small parcels through the mail these last couple of months which were all delivered for the Post Office by Taxi.
And one of her girl friends says her firm gets telegrams by cab.
PMG public relations men say this happens when there’s a shortage of staff or vehicles. Is it any wonder that the Postal Department incurs a loss when some telegrams and small parcels are delivered by taxi because of a shortage of personnel or vehicles. This is due to the bad administration of the Postal Department. The Australian Labor Party has been agitating for some years for the administration of the Postal Department to come within the responsibility of some sort of board and not to be under ministerial control, which has led to waste, extravagance and loss.
Another source of revenue to the Government will be the increase in customs and excise duties on certain commodities. It has been estimated that the increase in excise on cigarettes and cigars will yield $20m in the remainder of this year and $31m in a full year. An excise duty of 50c a gallon has been placed on Australian wine. The Treasurer said in his Budget Speech that this would amount to 8c a bottle. In fact the excise duty of 50c a gallon on wine will result in an increase of 15c a bottle. Companies simply add indirect taxes to their prices and so pass them on to the consumers. A paper written by 2 professors from the University of New South Wales indicates that for every SI 00m of indirect taxation levied the consumers pay SI 50m to the Treasury. The imposition of an excise duty of 50c a gallon on wine involves more than an increase of 50c a gallon to the consumer because the servicing charge has to be taken into account. But this does not stop at the winery The wholesaler, retailer and the consumer each have to pay the additional cost of trading. Therefore, there is a repetition of the percentage increase.
An increase of 2i per cent in the sales tax on certain commodities including radios, television sets and motor cars is also expected to bring in another $29m in a full year. I understand that most South Australian members of this Parliament have received protests from the wine industry in regard to the imposition of an excise duty on wine. I received a lengthy letter from Mr Nettlebeck, the SecretaryManager of the Federal Wine and Brandy Producers Council of Australia Incorporated, concerning the imposition of an excise duty on wine. I wish to quote a paragraph of his letter to show the difficulty which is facing the industry. The letter states:
On the wine makers side, charges arising from the Budget in addition to the excise have been partly taken into account in arriving at a wholesale price. One of these is the interest on overdrafts which the wine companies will have to incur to pay the thousands of dollars for which cheques have to be forwarded to the Customs Department when wine is cleared from bonded premises. This took effect from the morning after the Budget Speech. One large company had to find $60,000 immediately and it will be 60 days before the company receives this amount back in payments from its customers. Other Budget implications must also be taken into account such as petrol, company tax, sales tax on some items used in the industry, telephone and postal charges.
Honourable senators will appreciate the big impact that the increased excise must have on the wine industry. It is one of the few profitable primary industries at present and it is in danger of being impoverished by the increased excise. Today I received a statement from the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) setting out how the wine tax will be collected. Payment is not made on all wine in a winery but is calculated on wine leaving the winery. The excise is payable at the time the wine leaves the winery. A deduction is allowable for fortifying spirits which have now been exempted from excise when used in the manufacture of wine.
Although the excise is payable when wine leaves a winery, the winery must wait 60 days to recover the excise from a purchaser. As the industry has pointed out, the servicing of the overdraft required to pay the excise is an added burden. The Secretary of the Wine and Brandy Cooperative Producers Association of Australia sent a telegram expressing grave concern at the imposition of heavy excise duty on wines and stated that it could be disastrous for the industry. He stated that action is imperative to alleviate the position and asked for assistance to remove the impost. I have told the Association that I have used my efforts vocally in the past against such forms of taxation, but it seems that my efforts have been ineffective. The only truly effective effort would be to put out of office a government which imposes such taxation in primary producing areas.
The Southern Vales Co-operative Winery at McClaren Vale in South Australia also sent a telegram expressing a grievance. It states that the increased excise will suppress sales and so will be crippling to wine growers. It claims that insufficient deterrent is placed on the importation of wines, liqueurs and brandies which pose a considerable threat to the Australian wine industry. The Waikerie Co-operative Distillery Limited states in a 2 page letter that 3 points require correction. The first point is that the proposed duty is excessive. The second point is that the excise is imposed on a flat rate a gallon, irrespective of the type, quality and value of the wine. This is inequitable in the extreme and imposes a savage and unjust burden on low and medium price wines, the company claims. For example, a retail price increase of 15c for a 26 ounce bottle of wine means that the duty on wine retailing at S2.S0 a bottle is 6 per cent, while that on wine retailing at $1.20 a flagon is 37i per cent.
In a question last week Senator Drury pointed out that the percentage increase in the price of imported wine - which is dearer than local wine - is much smaller than that on Australian wine. This is another factor which creates big problems for the Australian wine industry. The third point that the Waikerie Co-operative Distillery Limited suggests requires correction is set out in the company’s letter as follows:
The imposition of the duty at the cellar means that the statement made by the Treasurer that the price of wine would increase by 8 cents per bottle was ridiculous and ill considered. The price has risen by IS cents, and will probably be higher when the cost of collection, which must be borne by the wineries, is properly assessed.
– It is strange that it has only increased by 13c in New South Wales. I do not know whether the honourable senator is aware of that.
– It is a matter of the method of distributing the charges. If the honourable senator wants to tell Waikerie Co-operative Distillery Limited that it is exploiting the South Australian public he is at liberty to do that. I do not accept that that is the case. The company is forced to pass on the increased excise and points out that the statement of the Treasurer is ridiculous and ill-considered. If the honourable senator wishes to tell the company that its directors do not know what they are talking about, I will assist him to get that information to them. If the company is exploiting the South Australian public, it should be told of the position in New South Wales.
– You are distorting my statement. I said that Waikerie Co-operative Distillery Limited would not be responsible, but there is a variation in price.
– Where does the variation come from?
– That is what I would like to find out.
– The letter from the company goes on:
In addition, because these duty payments must be made on despatch, wineries will have to provide bridging finance pending receipt of payment from their customers. This not only means the addition of substantial interest charges to company overheads, but could cause serious financial difficulty to those companies which, like ourselves, are needing all available money for equipment in order to be able to process the increased tonnage of grapes now coming forward from recent substantial plantings of vines.
That factor could have serious repercussions on the future of the industry. Mr Heinemann, Secretary of Waikerie Cooperative Distillery Limited, concluded his letter by seeking support for 3 proposals, the first of which is a substantial reduction in the amount of duty. He asks secondly that the duly charges, if any, be based on value and not on gallonage. His third point is that if there must be a tax on wine, it should be in the form of a sales tax to avoid the escalation of price at retail levels.
The Wine and Brandy Co-operative Producers Association of Australia Incorporated has sent a letter of 2 foolscap pages from Nuriootpa, protesting against the increased excise on wine. I have detailed protests that have come from South Australia where 70 per cent of Australia’s wine industry is located. The Treasurer pointed out that taxation is now being levied on a section of primary industry - the liquor producing section - which has never been taxed before.
The increases in indirect taxation must surely affect pensioners. Although the consumer price index has risen by 5 per cent in the last year, pensioners are to receive only a 3 per cent increase in their pensions. In addition, because of increases in indirect taxation they must pay more for cigarettes and wine, as well as increased telephone charges, petrol tax and sales tax on other commodities. They are much worse off. The section of the work force represented by the Australian Council of Trade Unions is to receive a 10 per cent reduction in income tax. That reduction is to apply on salaries and wages of up to $10,000 a year. A wage earner on $70 a week - a man in the section of the work force represented by the ACTU - will have bis income tax reduced by between 60c and 75c a week, but he is faced with increases in indirect taxation on cigarettes, wines and other commodities. That is why the ACTU organised a protest at the reduction in workers’ standards brought about by this Budget. This is the fundamental difference between the policy of the Liberal and Country Party Government and the policy of the Australian Labor Party. Time does not permit me to explore which taxes are justified and whether Labor could govern with a reduced Budget.
After determining the revenue that it believed to be essential for the forthcoming year the Government set out to put a tax burden upon the working man in industry. We have only to think of the flat 10 per cent reduction in income tax on incomes up to $10,000 a year. A man receiving a salary of $10,000 a year will receive a good deal. The politician will do all right out of it as will some executives in the higher income group up to $20,000 a year. Their income tax will be reduced by $3 or more a week but the working man to whom we promised some relief in the Budget will find his income tax reduced by some 50c a week only to be confronted by the higher cost of the commodities thai he purchases.
One of the Government’s proposals mentioned in the Budget Speech is to train married women to re-enter industry. In view of the employment position today, no woman who is capable of working iri an area where employment is available would have difficulty in finding a job. The training that the Minister has proposed should be undertaken by industry, but so that industry will not suffer a loss in absorbing a woman in employment the Government has undertaken the burden of training women so that they will be efficient when they re-enter industry, the cost of such training to be met by increased indirect taxes. For example, we will pay more now for our cigarettes. On 6th August 1970 the Department of Labour and National Service issued a Press release in which the following appeared:
Mr Snedden said thai his Department’s analysis indicated (bat people most likely to experience such difficulty–
That is, in finding employment - were those with limited education or training, those with mental and physical handicaps or unfavourable work attitudes and those affected by age. Young women living in country and smaller urban areas also experience difficulty in obtaining employment because of the narrower range of job opportunities available to them locally.
There is no mention of any subsistence allowance for those who may transfer to the city. This is simply a scheme to train women to meet the requirements of industry not, I venture to suggest, so much for the benefit of the women who will get a job as for the benefit of industry which will receive yet another subsidy.
The effects of the Budget will be felt in all States but I believe that South Australia will be hit hardest. The wine industry in South Australia, where 70 per cent of wine grapes are grown and where the biggest percentage of spirits using wine are produced, will be affected to a great extent. In addition, household consumer products and the motor vehicle industry on which that State relies will be affected. Whether it is good budgeting to inflict hardship on one section of industry and on one area of Australia more than on another is a matter for conjecture, despite the fact that budgeting of that kind may assist to destroy a government of an opposite political character. In one hit the Commonwealth Government has increased sales tax on the goods on which South Australia relies greatly. The State will find it extremely difficult to maintain full employment having regard to these added imposts. No one in South Australia could possibly give a vote of approval to the Budget because it will have a more disastrous effect on that State than on any other State of the Commonwealth.
In the Budget we find that the Government is relying upon revenue from the receipts tax. The attitude of the Labor Party, and of the Senate, is well known. When the proposal was before the Senate earlier we rejected it. Why should we pay a tax every time money changes hands? We all know that the tax is being imposed by the Commonwealth for the benefit of the States. That method of finance could never be justified. The States have a responsibility for financing their own operations, but because this unjust and illegal tax which the States had imposed was rejected the Commonwealth now is seeking to bring it in through the back door. Labor’s policy on this matter is definite. Labor will not support a receipts tax no matter how many times legislation relating to it is introduced into the Parliament. As the Government has made this an issue, the Leader of the Labor Party in the Parliament, has thrown out a challenge to the Government to see what the electors think of the Budget. We challenge the Government to an election on the Budget.
– Senator Murphy, when speaking to the Budget last week, referred to South Vietnam and emphasised particularly the comparison between the cost of lives and the money that would be saved if we were to withdraw from Vietnam. Having returned recently from South Vietnam and other countries in South East Asia I felt that I should make some reference to his remarks in my speech today. I am concerned to hear this point of view expressed because to me it implies immediate withdrawal from South Vietnam. No one would doubt that that would mean a saving of money nor could one doubt that it would mean a great cost in lives.
We all know - history and the relevant figures prove this conclusively - that when South Vietnam became a single entity with the sanction of the United Nations and the support of the Soviet Union over 1 million people migrated from North Vietnam to South Vietnam to avoid the dangers of Communism. When one adds to that number the South Vietnamese who have been in the Army and those who have taken up senior administrative and leadership posts in the provinces, plus their families, one must realise that an immediate withdrawal, besides leaving South Vietnam and our allies in the lurch, would be leaving millions of people completely open to mass murder and massacre. I for one am not prepared to break faith with our allies nor to condone mass murder such as would occur.
Many things in the Opposition’s attitude to Vietnam concern me considerably. Some honourable senators may doubt my word on what would happen if North Vietnam were let loose on South Vietnam but we have only to cast our minds back to the 1968 Tet offensive and to what happened then. In Hue alone 1,500 people were mercilessly massacred in the city square and buried in a mass grave. That alone showed conclusively the kind of domination that the North Vetnamese would couple with the extermination of the people they did not want.
An area of great concern to me is the fact that recently we saw in the Press that Dr Cairns had invited representatives from North Vietnam and the Vietcong itself, as well as other people, to Australia. Those 2 in particular I can only refer to as enemies of Australia. They are the people who today are fighting against our Australian troops. Likewise, they are the enemies of the non-Communist countries of South East Asia. If members of the Opposition do not want to believe me, let them ask the people in South East Asia and they will soon hear the answer. The point I want to emphasise is that, to my knowledge, no member of the Opposition has ever criticised the action of Dr Cairns in inviting these enemies, to Australia for a conference. So, I can only presume that all members of the Opposition support Dr Cairns in this action; and from that presumption one can only go further and say that members of the Opposition do support and do condone the actions of the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong. 1 refer now to the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign. There are many genuine people who do not support war. In fact, all people are opposed to war. But in Australia today there are many people who have been hoodwinked into supporting the Moratorium because of the amount of propaganda that has been fed through and the complete misunderstanding of the situation. The evidence of this is the fact that every Communist in Australia would be supporting the Moratorium. In fact, the Communist Party has members on the Moratorium committees. With reference to my own State of South Australia, although the Australian Labor Party says that to date it has handled the committee as an ALP Moratorium committee, there are 2 known Communists on that committee.
– Who are they?
– I can give the honourable senator the names. I do not have them with me, but I have them in my office and I will table them for the honourable senator this afternoon.
– Why do you not name them?
– 1 will name them for the honourable senator.
– What are you doing with their names?
– They were not disclosed in the Press; only the ALP names came out. But I shall make a point of giving those names to the Senate tomorrow - or tonight, if the honourable senator wants them. I am not ducking the issue. The honourable senator will be sorry that he brought this up. There are some names there that will embarrass him. Although there are people in Australia who are supporting the Moratorium, if members of the Opposition went to South East Asia they would find there people who are completely opposed to any such concept. They recognise that South Vietnam is an issue not just in that area of South East Asia; that Vietnam is a part of South East Asia and what happens in South Vietnam will have an effect upon the other countries of the area.
Again if members of the Opposition wish to disbelieve me, 1 ask them to reflect on what is happening today in the countries of Laos and Cambodia. Laos is a little country with a population of fewer than 3 million. For a long lime - in fact, basically since 1945 - the North Vietnamese have been mercilessly attacking the Laotian people. We find that today North Vietnam has an estimated 60.000 troops in Laos. They have overrun a great deal of the country. They have caused great hardship and great tragedy. There are in excess of 40,000 refugees in Laos. This is a little country that is bending over backwards to maintain its neutrality, lt is not hurting anyone. But what is happening there shows clearly the intentions of the Communists or the North Vietnamese; they intend to take over these countries in South East Asia at any price and at any human cost.
Laos is endeavouring to stem this attack by the Communists. Each week about 10 Laotian soldiers are killed in action, apart from all those who are wounded. If that figure of 10 were related to a nation the size of the United States of America on a comparative basis it would be the equivalent of 1,000 American soldiers being killed each week. This is taking place in a neutral country, a little country, which does not want to hurt anybody and which only has a desire to have peace. Yet we hear nothing of this. Let me turn to Cambodia, where again-
– Why do you not get out and let them have peace?
– Senator Cavanagh interjects and says: ‘Why do you nol get out of South Vietnam and let them have peace?’ I remind him that, well before the issue of South Vietnam arose, back in 1945 the North Vietnamese and the Communists were in Laos attacking that country mercilessly, and that has been going on non-stop ever since.
Cambodia also is a neutral country and a country that only wishes to live in peace and to mind its own business. It has been attacked by North Vietnam. Here 1 refer to a statement that was made to us by the Prime Minister of Cambodia, General Lon
Nol - a magnificent man who is to be admired for his courage, initiative and leadership. He made the statement to all of us in the Australian parliamentary delegation that for so long the Communists have been able to cloud the issue of South Vietnam by saying that it is a civil war, but at last they have been exposed for what they really are - naked, open aggressors - because at last they have had to come out into the open and openly attack Cambodia, which is small, which is neutral and which did nothing to provoke any neighbour at all or to cause such aggression.
One of the most inspiring experiences I had while I was away was to sit around a table with a group of students, teachers and intellectuals in Phnom Penh in Cambodia. These young people of different political views were all completely united in their cause - the cause of their country and finally the removal of every Communist North Vietnamese from their country. These students put out an open letter. I was not prepared to accept an open letter from them because it could be regarded as just a piece of paper. So, afterwards I spoke to the students and the teachers. I asked them whether their 2 leaders, or acting leaders, would be prepared to put their names on this open letter and sign it for me so that I would have a signed document. If the Senate wants this tabled afterwards, I will table it, with the signatures. The statements that were made by these young people really make the position clear. The statement was made to us that when Sihanouk was in power more than 1,000 students and teachers were physically removed. Some went to gaol; others just disappeared. In a hospital 1 saw a young lad who is now a paraplegic. I was not alone; others in our delegation saw him, too. He is paralysed from the hips down. As just an innocent 17-year-old student, he was beaten up by the Communists when they came in and tried to take over the university.
These young people are so concerned about what is happening in other countries with regard to moratoriums that they have put out this open letter on which I have 2 signatures. There are too many pages to read all of it, but I wish to quote some of it. Honourable senators opposite are interjecting. Is it not strange how some people hate to hear the truth? This is a true docu ment which was signed and given to me by students in Cambodia. I wish to quote the comments of those students; but, because some people are afraid to hear the truth, they interject. The letter states in part:
Considering the above, we solemnly accuse the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese as well as their mentor, the People’s Republic of China, of trying to erase Cambodia and the Cambodian people from the face of this world. And Sihanouk, the puppet of these forces, is to be despised for the part that he has taken against his own countrymen.
The annals of history will lay the full blame for the current crisis in South East Asia at the feet of the Communist leaders in Peking and Hanoi and to their fellow travellers and misguided henchmen, of which Sihanouk is a prize example.
That statement could be interpreted to mean such people as leaders of moratoriums. I continue:
These leaders have the gall to cry out American aggression! This is a joke in Cambodia. The Americans came with some aid for us, for the Cambodians themselves to ward off the North Vietnamese and Vietcong attack. Had our enemies succeeded, we would have been swallowed up, Cambodia would be no more. Wc, the Cambodian people, are grateful to the United States.
That statement is very significant. It should ring very loudly and, I hope, very clearly in the ears of many members of the Opposition who for some reason or other seem to condone the carrying of Vietcong and North Vietnam flags down Australian streets under the noses of Australian boys who have returned from Vietnam. Time does not permit me to speak at further length about the issue in South Vietnam. I felt I had to make some reference to it following the comments that were made in this place by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy).
When the Parliament reassembled the week before last the Opposition saw fit to bring up an urgency proposal in relation to primary industry. It is rather strange that, on reading the Hansard report of the speech in the other place of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) last week I found about 6 lines that could be related directly to primary industry - just a passing reference. On reading the Hansard report of Senator Murphy’s speech in this place, I could not find one line about primary industry. Hence I question the sincerity of the Opposition in bringing forward that urgency proposal. If primary industry had been as important to honourable senators opposite as they tried to make out on that occasion, why has the Leader of the Opposition in each House made basically no reference to primary industry?
– To be fair to Senator Murphy, he did use the words ‘primary industry’ in his speech.
– That is right. He did use the words in one line of his amendment. The point I make is this: Now some member of the Opposition is bound to say something about primary industry to cover up. But the point I emphasise is that the Leaders completely overlooked primary industry and its problems. We all know that primary industry is faced with many problems. We also know that no single factor has caused this problem but that many factors have caused it. For example, world surpluses in many products have affected world prices, which have been reflected in Australian prices. When these factors are added to the rising cost of production of primary industry, the area of profitability of primary industry is affected greatly.
For a long time the man on the land was able to increase his productivity to counter the rising costs of production. Today the situation has changed completely. Huge surpluses of many of our commodities have meant that we have had to be careful that we no longer over-produce and merely sit with a costly surplus on our bands. An example of this, of course, is the wheat industry. Two or three years ago there was over-production which was well beyond the capacity of the Australian Wheat Board to sell. The inability of the Board to sell all the wheat produced was due to over-production in the other main wheat producing countries. This coupled with a reduction in the actual markets brought about a consequent fall in prices paid for wheat. The wheat industry and the Government were placed in quite a serious position. One must commend the Government for what it has done. It still guarantees the first advance to the wheat grower of $1.10 a bushel, thus giving him some security.
Perhaps the single factor that has had the greatest effect on primary industry today has been the fall in wool prices. It has affected not only the wool grower but also the mixed wheat-sheep farmer. For a long time the wool grower was able to increase his productivity to counter rising costs, but the limitation placed on the wool grower to increase productivity to an economic level was greater than that placed upon the wheat grower. It was easier to get more acres to grow more wheat than it was to increase wool production. There is a limit on how far economic production in the wool industry can be increased. For some time now the wool industry has not been able to increase its productivity to an economic level but has had to absorb increased costs. Today wool growers are faced with very low returns and, in some cases, no profitability whatever.
The fall in wool prices had other effects. I mentioned the effect on the wheat-sheep farmer. When wool prices fell many wool growers were encouraged to go into the wheat growing areas or, if they were able to do so, to grow wheat on their own properties. This encouraged a further explosion in the production of wheat. Before wool prices fell the wheat-sheep farmer was able to get quite a sizeable part of his income from his return from wool. Today this income has dropped to a very minimal figure. Coupled with wheat quotas, which have meant a reduction in the amount of wheat grown, the fall in wool prices has meant that the wheat-sheep farmer has been very adversely affected. All sections of primary industry have virtually reached the stage where they cannot absorb further increased costs. They have reached the stage where they cannot be bled further. It is easy to say what the problems are, but it is not so easy to find practical solutions and answers to these problems.
I wish to make a point now in relation to the cost of production. That has been a very big factor in the problems and profitability of primary industry. We all know that inflation has a great bearing upon the cost of production. Whatever the Opposition might say about the Budget, it shows the Government’s attempt to counter inflation. Not only in annual Budgets but in other measures throughout the years, the Government has acted responsibly to check inflation.
A new issue has come into the whole industrial field within the last 12 months. I refer to the emergence of a new President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. I am the first to say that I support trade unions. I had the privilege of knowing Mr Albert Monk when he was the President of the ACTU. I admired him for his leadership and for his Australian approach. I would not be peculiar in saying that, because I think most Australians admired this man for the contribution he made to industry. Today we no longer have an Albert Monk: we have a very militant leader of the ACTU who should be in a position to know something of the basics of economics but who militantly presses for higher wages at a rate far in excess of the increase in our gross national product. His actions can lead to only one thing, that is, to increased inflation and, in turn, increased costs. Looking at it from a point of view sympathetic to the worker, he receives his increase in wages but within a short period of time the increase is lost because of the increase in the cost of living.
But the wage increase does more than this. In the meantime it increases the cost of production. Primary industry is at the stage where it cannot absorb any further increases in its cost of production. Australia as a nation is expanding also in its commercial and industrial fields. As we expand naturally we as a nation will have to look at the possibility of selling more of our products overseas. But here we have to compete with foreign traders and manufacturers. We have to be careful to ensure that we do not find ourselves in the position of out-costing ourselves against our overseas competitors. If this happens - and it is something that we have to face realistically - we will then be in the position where there could be unemployment, which is something that we do not want to see in this country. We want every man to have a job and to earn a decent and real income - I use the term ‘real income’ instead of ‘wage’ because there is a great difference - so that all of us can maintain the high standard of living that we enjoy in this country.
I must return to the question of the leadership of the ACTU. Today Senator Cavanagh referred first to the strike that was called by Mr Hawke last Tuesday and then he moderated his tone by referring to it as a protest meeting.
– I did not say he called a strike.
– I will check Hansard tomorrow. I may be incorrect, but my understanding was that he used the word strike’ initially. Whether Senator Cavanagh said it today or not, we know that Mr Hawke called for a strike for the day on which Mr Whitlam was to make his speech in reply to the Budget.
– He did not.
– Initially Mr Hawke called for a strike, but then gradually he softened down his demand because certain trades and labour councils were not in favour of a strike. So Mr Hawke gradually had to moderate and come down to saying that there would be a protest meeting. Whether the Opposition agrees with this or not, it cannot deny that Mr Hawke condones strikes. A strike is an entirely different thing from a protest meeting. I say that Mr Hawke condones strikes across the board.
Strikes are very costly not only to the worker but also to industry, to the consumer and finally to the nation. They have an inflationary effect. One must be very critical about this because we know that when inflation occurs there is an increase in costs, and when this sort of thing happens certain sections of industry, such as primary industry, cannot absorb any more costs. I have referred to a statement by Mr Hawke on a previous occasion, but I will refer to it again because Mr Hawke has no time or sympathy whatsoever for the man on the land. Honourable senators opposite stand up in this chamber and say that they support the man on the land, but at the same time, in the same breath, they say that they support. Mr Hawke. I may be wrong and, if I am, honourable senators opposite can correct me, but I do not think that any honourable senator opposite has ever stood up and criticised Mr Hawke for certain of the militant statements he has made. Let me quote an article reporting one of the statements he is reported to have made:
The President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr Hawke, declared that his organisation would strongly resist further efforts by employers and the Government to use arguments about the cost/price squeeze and its impact on farmers as a reason to hold down wage levels.
– Hear, hear!
– An honourable senator opposite says: ‘Hear, hear’. The statement continues:
Mr Hawke said be did not deny some farmers were in financial trouble, but these were almost solely small and inefficient marginal producers. The cost/price squeeze argument, he said - and this is what we are here today about - amounted to little more than a plea for maintenance of a rural production structure which includes a substantial number of inefficient marginal producers without whom we would all be better off.
Opposition senators say ‘Hear, hear’ in support of Mr Hawke. I think this shows clearly the attitude of the Opposition to primary industry, when it comes down to realities. Whatever the Opposition may say regarding Mr Hawke’s call for a strike or protest recently, he did not receive good support from the Australian people. The small numbers who went out in protest showed clearly that people were not prepared to accept this blatant attempt by the leader of the Australian Council of Trade Unions to oppose parliamentary democracy, and this was basically what Mr Hawke was doing. He was calling for strikes and then for protests on the very day on which the Leader of the Opposition was to reply to the Budget. One can do no more than condemn the actions of a man who is prepared to go outside the parliamentary institution in order to carry on and to encourage such actions as he suggested. One could be critical and suggest that perhaps Mr Hawke had no faith in the ability of Mr Whitlam or of the Opposition, and hence he felt it necessary to go out himself and voice opposition. Whatever he may think, I hope that Australians will always remember and respect the fact that we have a democratic parliamentary institution in this country to which all of us should give our utmost support. Whatever party may be in power or whatever issue may be in dispute, Parliament is here for the people and it is elected by the people. I only hope that if Mr Hawke ever tries this again, he will receive as little support as he received on this occasion.
Earlier I referred to the wool industry and to the great problems facing the wool industry. This year the Commonwealth Government has agreed, for one year only, to give $30m emergency relief to wool growers. But the Government has gone much further than this. The question of wool marketing is very much before the industry and the Government today. Broad suggestions for a single wool marketing authority have been made. At this stage I do not know any details of the plan. I hope that some change in wool marketing will take place, but at the same time I want to emphasise that I hope the Government and industry will not hasten to do something which will be a mistake and which will be very difficult to rectify in the future.
The other point to make with regard to wool marketing concerns the physical changes that can take place in marketing. This is an area in which, in all probability, the wool industry can make big savings. The Government has been very cognisant of this fact because it has set aside quite an amount of money - as a matter of fact, $].5m - for research into various aspects of marketing, including the physical handling of wool, the measurement of wool, the core testing of wool and so on. Here again the Government is providing assistance in a completely new field in the marketing of wool.
This afternoon Senator Cavanagh read out many letters expressing the concern of the wine industry, particularly in South Australia, about the Budget proposals. Speaking personally, I must say that I was sorry to see the Government introduce a 50c tax per gallon on wine at this stage. I would have hoped that the Government could find some other way to raise revenue. For long the wine industry has been the one primary industry which has beendoing very well. Not so long ago the wine industry was in trouble with a surplus and the problem of disposing of its crop, and in addition to this over the last few years there have been big plantings of vines not only in South Australia but also in New South Wales and to some extent in Victoria. Soon they will be coming into production and, when they do, there will be a great increase in total production.
The Government will have to watch this situation very closely. I know that it will do so. But also, if it can be shown that there is a marked fall-off in demand because of the increased tax, I hope that the Government will take the steps necessary to reduce the tax or to remove it. First and foremost we must make sure that this one section of primary industry which has been doing so well recently is allowed to continue to be profitable. Another matter to which I refer is the break-up in the tax of 50c per gallon to 8c a bottle. It amazes me to find that the industry has allowed the 8c tax to be escalated to a price increase of 15c a bottle. I cannot understand why the industry has not seen fit to make this tax increase a single line entry so that the increase is 8c at the point of sale. The increase of 8c could have been channelled through to the consumer who could have been spared this escalation in price which takes place so often.
I conclude my remarks by mentioning briefly a few other pointsat which the Government is looking for the purpose of assisting primary industry.In the area of reconstruction the Government has agreed to provide $25m over 4 years for the reconstruction of dairy farms, about which all of us are very conscious. But also the Treasurer (Mr Bury) has announced that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) will be urgently examining reconstruction of the wool industry and reporting to the Government. He said that the Government recognises that reconstruction includes also financial reconstruction. This point is important. I hope that in this reconstruction will be included an investigation of longer term loans and the possibility of reduced interest rates. We have been told also that the Government will investigate debt reconstruction. This in itself is a very serious problem, not only in the wool industry but also in other areas. But in addition it is my personal hope that the Government will give serious consideration to the abolition of probate duties, which is something which we tried to achieve in this place. I remind the Senate that a few of us voted for the abolition of probate, but it was noticeable that the Opposition was conspicuous by its absence in that not one member of the Australian Labor Party saw fit to cross the chamber and support us in a move which would have given so much relief to the man on the land.
As the States come into the area of death duties, I hope that they will give serious consideration to reducing State succession duties and that also they will look very closely at freight charges. All these things have an adverse effect on the cost structure of primary industry. Today 1 have purposely dealt mainly with primary industry because of its great problems. As I said earlier, it has been noticeable that neither the Leader of the Opposition in this place nor the Leader of the Opposition in another place gave any time to primary industry. Perhaps now that the Opposition has had a reminder to this effect one or two Opposition speakers will pass some comment on aspects of primary industry.
– Mr Deputy President, I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage this evening.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from 27 August (vide page 305), on motion by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson:
Upon which Senator Murphy had moved by way of amendment:
[5.20] - Last week I moved a motion that the Senate concurs in the resolution transmitted to the Senate by message No. 73 of the House of Representatives with reference to the appointment of a joint select committee to inquire into and report upon the defence forces retirement benefits legislation. Senator Murphy moved an amendment to the motion and I propose now to speak, to the amendment. In simple terms, both sides of the Senate concurred in the appointment of a joint select committee. My motion contained the proposal that on the committee there should be 3 senators, 1 nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, 1 nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and 1 nominated by the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. In essence Senator Murphy’s amendment proposes that whilst agreeing with the proposal for the establishment of the committee, the number should be altered to provide for 2 senators nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, 2 nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and 1 nominated by the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party. The Government is not prepared to accept the amendment.
I do not need to speak at any length on this matter. As the Senate has only half as many members as the House of Representatives it seems to the Government that its original proposal is basic and that to have a joint committee of the 2 Houses with the same number of members from each House would not be realistic. As a second point I should mention that at this time in the evolution of the Senate we are embarking on a committee system in which we will have Estimates committees. Eventually we will have 7 standing committees; we have 2 at the moment and by the beginning of the new year we will have 5 more. The proposal to increase the number of senators on this joint select committee would create an embarrassment for us. I mention that point in passing. But my real reason for opposing the amendment is that the committee would be out of balance if it were composed of 5 senators from this chamber and 5 members of another place. We believe that the original proposal of 5 members of the House of Representatives and 3 senators is more practical. We cannot support the amendment moved by Senator Murphy.
– The Opposition supports the amendment The history of this matter began on 9th June last in the House of Representatives when the defence forces retirement benefits legislation was before that chamber. At that time the Australian Labor Party moved an amendment which was rejected by the Government but which contained many points which found favour with the Government. The Government gave an undertaking at that time that it would look into the possibility of setting up a joint committee and this has been done. There have been conversations and finally this proposal has been introduced. We attempted in another place to enlarge the scope of the committee’s examination. That proposal was ruled out of order because of the peculiar forms under which that House operates. Since then the proposal has been transmitted to this place in its original form. We support that proposal which provides broadly for representation by the Senate.
The original proposal for the establishment of the committee provided for 5 members of the House of Representatives and 3 senators. Senator Murphy has moved to enlarge the number of senators. His amendment does not seek to make the number disproportionate but rather to enlarge the number by 1 senator from the Government side and 1 senator from the Labor Party side. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson mentioned that this does not find favour with him. I suggest that there is no basic difference about the overall proposal. I do not think there is anybody in Australia who would not want to see, after all these years, the defence forces retirements benefits legislation have a thorough going over with unbiased people trying to help this section of our community. Therefore, I do not see any point in proceeding with this. We have moved the amendment and I suggest that the matter should now go to a vote.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party, which would have 1 senator on the committee, supports the proposal for membership of the Committee to include 3 senators. I think that if the other suggestion embodies in the amendment were adopted it would be rather unusual. In this regard the Government has made a gesture by allowing 2 non-government senators on this Committee as against one nongovernment senator as the Senate representation. I think that is rather unusual.
– What is the practice, though?
– I think the usual thing is to have a majority of Government Senators on a committee. For example, 1 notice that in ali the select committees the Government has at least parity or a majority as against non-government senators.
– They have it in this one.
– No, not from the Senate.
– But they have it from the Australian Democratic Labor Party.
– Of course, that is being clever.
– The DLP always votes with them.
– The DLP does no such thing. The Australian Labor Party always votes with the Government against my Party. We often vote for you against the Government. We find it is very seldom you support us. I do not want to make a political issue of this. Senator Willesee has suggested it should not be. The Australian Democratic Labor Party supports the motion and rejects the amendment. My Party would be very happy to serve on this most valuable Committee.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed (vide page 355).
– I came into the chamber as Senator Young was in the midst of his oration. For that reason 1 propose to deal with a number of matters which he raised during his speech. As 1 interpreted his speech he was making a point about the emergence of violence in the streets, Vietcong flags and the like. Since we are talking about a budget 1 suppose it is logical that we should ask what violence has taken place and whether it costs the taxpayer anything. Strange as it may seem, the other day the Canberra evening Press had a very good article about what it cost the Australian taxpayer to provide security guards to look after the embassies of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. Why are those guards there? They are not there to guard those embassies from any left wing extremists. They are there to guard them from right wing thugs. We talk about violence, but what major violence have we had in this country? The major violence has been from Comrade Lesic - as Senator Ormonde knows - an ultra white right wing Croate
Let me return to my original remarks. Like any other Socialist in this community I would be very resentful of what happened in Prague. The situation with the Slav embassy is in a vastly different context. But whichever way one looks at it any cost to the Australian taxpayer because of violence or attempted violence is being caused by the people to the far right. When I use the words ‘the far right’ I mean miles beyond the Liberal Party. They are not on our side. The point is that they are beyond the Liberal Party.
– You have” to go in a circle because you may overbalance.
– No. Senator Greenwood should have listened to my speech on foreign affairs the other night. I pointed out the facts concerning Hubert Morrison when he was the British Home Secretary. He gaoled lawbreakers no matter what side they came from. That is my objection to what supporters of the Government do. They are inclined to look the other way like a 1970 Lord Nelson when some of these situations occur. Honourable senators have been talking about Vietnam. I remember an occasion one night about 3 years ago when I was in full flight speaking about the Ustashi. One honourable senator opposite said to me: They are going to provide a legion of people to go to Vietnam.’ They never went. The Government sooled somebody else on. That is the synthetic patriotism which these people display. I mentioned on behalf of some people that they were the recipients of threats from the ultra-right. They were people in the 25 to 35-year old age group who, as Australian citizens, had served in the Citizen Military Forces. Yet these people were being called Communists because they argued about a certain ideological thaw-out which occurred in Europe. 1 say quite sincerely to honourable senators: When you talk about law and order let us have a look at and let us gaol some of these people to the far right. Put them away.’ When honourable senators talk about law and order do not forget that it was a Labor Prime Minister, Chifley, who dealt with certain people who almost put loyalty to the Red Army ahead of Australia. It was not a Menzies Government which did it. It was a Labor Government. I do not gloat about putting anybody into gaol, but 1 say that we should be consistent with the law. I notice Senator Wright listening to me very intently as he always does. As Senator Ormonde knows I have a question on the notice paper about the rule of law. It deals with some people in Sydney who appeared in the Bankruptcy Court and other witnesses who did not appear. I am not going to canvass this any more. But these are things people are worrying about.
I wish to deal now with the question of Mr Hawke. The plain fact of the matter is that when one equates the Australian Council of Trade Unions economic demands with the Budget one finds that people feel they have been tricked. I will give honourable senators a little illustration. I can do no more than look across at Senator Young because he represents South Australia which is a big wine producing State. Like some other honourable senator from New South Wales I have a habit of going into Cahill’s Restaurant in Sydney for a meal of an evening. One could have a goblet of sauterne for 25c. Nowadays it costs 30c. Well, you may say it is only a matter of 5c. This is an example of slick gamesmanship. The Government works out a taxation schedule and says that it will place a tax of so many cents on a gallon of wine because this is what the Treasurer wants. But the retailer is not satisfied with that. For every goblet of wine he sells he puts on an extra charge of 5c. If honourable senators tally that up they will see that the winegrower does not receive that money. Mr Bury does not receive it. The retailer receives it. It is this sense of being conned which worries the people. In so many of these situations one feels: ‘Well, all right is it gamesmanship? Somebody else can cheat, but I cannot.’
When one takes it a little further, one sees that protracted wage inquiries are held and the ACTU has a witness in the witness box. He is asked how many pairs of sox he has, what is the life of a blue working shirt or how much cosmetics his wife uses.
All these examples are put up. A slick Queen’s Counsel gets up and tries to bowl the witness out and says: ‘You exaggerate.’ But let us look at the other side of the coin. The oil companies are a classic illustration. They do not have their retail price of petrol pegged. Always there is a flexibility of so many cents over and above the price. Despite what Mr Bury says about a moderate Budget you and I know that over and above what is regarded as the passing on or the flow through of taxation increases, the retailers go for something more. Everybody can reimburse himself except the fellow with only his labour to sell. This is the situation in the trade union movement. If Senator Cavanagh or Senator Bishop were here with me at the moment they would agree that women are hardest to organise in the trade union field. A demonstration has been talked about. Honourable senators should not simply assess it by the people who went to a given point but by the people who gave tacit support to it.
I went to female members of the Printing and Kindred Industries Union. They are not in the militant metal trade workshops. They are not in the collieries. They are the girls who have a set budget. I said to some of them: ‘What do you think of this decision to have a stop work meeting?’ They said - this is to take Senator Young’s thesis: ‘We will be a few cents out this week but we want to impress on the Government that we feel it is putting it over us.’ I also went to another small section which is not a militant section. But this form of militancy, this virus is growing because people are fed up to the teeth with the attitude of ‘too little too late*. I refer to the female shop assistants who work in the big retail stores whether it be David Jones or the other stores which are not battlers. These are the stores which are doing all right. During the past 3 years I first went to Mr McMahon and now I have gone to Mr Bury about female shop assistants in these stores who have to wear a set uniform. It applies to Mark Foys as well as David Jones. These shop assistants have to wear a black uniform. One is certainly not with it today if one wears a sombre black uniform to and from work. I, backed up by the unions, put the viewpoint to the Director-General of Taxation that these people should be able to obtain some taxation concession. The cry went out: Taxation justice for the middle and lower income earner.’
As a trade unionist 1 always argue that if I had the choice between having more leave or more wages I would choose the leave because it does not erode in value. The same analogy applies to taxation reform. These girls are on relatively small incomes and if the Government were prepared to give them this taxation reform it would be peanuts as far as the overall collection of taxation revenue is concerned. I suppose that as with most other parliamentarians I find that people at times try to sell themselves. They may say: ‘Let us have a bite ro eat’. I have said to such people on occasions: ‘This is a pretty posh restaurant’. The reply 1 have received is something like: Think nothing about it. We are all right. We have a big expense account.’ I do not think that any parliamentarian would sell his conscience for a braised steak or a grilled steak but the point 1 make is that honourable senators on the Government side talk about an egalitarian society whilst the gap is widening all the time.
A very important issue raised just after the last Federal election was held was that of health reform. How often since the last election has there been an interim award - for want of a better term - so that doctors can classify another complaint as being in the intermediate class? I use complaints in the abdominal area as a basis for my argument. There is. of course a distinction between appendicitis aDd a hernia condition, but if someone has a complaint that might be considered as somewhere between those conditions the hospital medical funds will say that it is not covered under the scheme. J could mention one or two other ailments which affect females and which arc not covered by the medical funds. Honourable senators opposite talk about whether the ACTU is able to control the trade union movement. I wonder whether those honourable senators have ever considered whether the Government can control the Australian Medical Association.
I should imagine that Dr Forbes became as dizzy as I was on learning of the many sub-groups within the Association. Honourable senators on the Government side talk about union sub-branches defying State and Federal union branches. What has the AMA done? The Government has not been tough enough in terms of issuing an ultimatum to the AMA. I know that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has said what the Government will do about the AMA but we read in the Press every week of changes that have been made on a regional basis. Let me deal with the other side of this picture. Has any honourable senator read today’s issue of the ‘Australian Financial Review’? The dogs have been barking it. I, like other honourable senators, have friends on hospital boards. How long will the Government keep the lid on hospital charges?
On the one hand we have an infinitesimal income tax reduction. On the other hand 1 think it is agreed that it is not a crime for anybody in receipt of the average income to buy a bottle of wine occasionally so as to have a drink with his meal. Now he is faced with an unreasonable price increase. The same racket applies in regard to the purchase of flagons of wine. When one considers the retail price of a flagon of wine one finds that the cost is considerably over and above that which the Treasurer (Mr Bury) said was a fair charge to impose. This is the atmosphere in which people are becoming so hostile.
In dealing with trade unions I recall a very illustrious member of this Parliament, Captain Sam Benson. He has gone back to the trade union field. He had to pull on a dispute which paralysed the maritime industry simply because the mechanism of Government failed. Senator Wright knows how correct this is. I took up with him another matter dealing with legal reimbursement. There is no secret about this, as Senator Wright is aware. Certain legal mcn came to see me about this. It concerned people involved in a very stormy internal battle for the control of the liquor trade union in New South Wales. I know that other honourable senators, such as Senator Cameron, who is well versed in industrial law, are well aware that these situations do arise. In the case involving Captain Benson people had been waiting for payment for about 7 months and the Merchant Service Guild, which is a quiet, responsible sector of the trade union movement, drifted along. When I use the word reasonable’ I am not making any particular comparison. But I know Sam Benson pretty well and I have only this to say - and here was the rub: Who put the screws on? It was an insurance company.
Honourable senators opposite look for militancy and when the trade unions step out of line they want to quote the provisions of the Grimes Act. But the insurance companies today can get away with murder. I read an article which stated that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) was perturbed at the action taken by this insurance company. The Minister said that the company might well have waited until the Government or the Attorney-General’s Department had taken some steps in the matter. I know that the Government did make a promise in respect to this incident. Well, this is a push button age, but 12 months went by and then this insurance company got tough and the Merchant Service Guild said: ‘All right, two can play that game.’ I do not know what the final outcome was but I understand that the parties fronted up to Mr Justice Gallagher and it is possible that the insurance company was told to be a little more patient in the future. What I resent is that not one honourable senator on the Government side has ever stood up in this chamber and criticised the provocative actions of big business as personified by insurance companies.
I want to return to rural industry. My mind goes back several years to a time when the then Federal Secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, Charlie Fitzgibbons, pointed out at an industrial seminar the pros and cons of containerisation. I can remember going with other members of the Senate Select Committee on Water Pollution to the Port of Mackay. Senator Georges may have more accurate information on this than I have. The number of men who now operate that port is infinitesimal. There has been some obvious saving in terms of transportation. But I have never heard an honourable senator from the Country Party condemn in this place the various overseas shipping interests which boost freight rates every time that there has been some saving in one direction or another. I would not mind so much if Senator Young, Senator Laucke or Senator Maunsell would say: ‘We do not agree with trade unions but they are no worse than the rich and greedy shipping companies’. They have never done this and their reluctance to do so mystifies me. The Minister for Shipping and Transport has occasionally spoken rather tersely about the shipping companies but the Government has never really got tough with them. Honourable senators opposite talk of the costs of strikes. I can recall a long time ago - at the time I had not been here very long - Senator Branson had on the notice paper a question about the cost of the strike at Mount Isa. His question remained on the notice paper for many months. In his question he referred to some mythical millions which he said was the cost of the Mount Isa strike. The Mount Isa strike was a lesson for everybody, employers and employees alike. I will not canvass that incident. As I said, it had lessons for many people. But let us be objective about this. Senator Branson referred to the mythical millions and it is significant that the Government did not at that time answer his question. It was jettisoned from the notice paper until the next session of Parliament. He did ask his question again and when finally he obtained an answer it was not one in terms of millions. But even if the cost was in millions, we have only to look at what has been achieved at Mount Isa since then to gain an understanding of the resiliency of industry and what it can do when it works on the profitsharing basis. It is not much use quoting figures of doom as honourable senators opposite do. A lot of these figures are grossly exaggerated. Even if I am wrong in that statement I defy anybody to give me figures showing a comparison of the cost of man-hours lost in industry during the protest against this Budget held last week with the cost to the rural industries of increased shipping freights. This burden of high freight rates is not something which is novel. It has been carried for over 50 years.
I know that many people read the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation reports showing how they can achieve better crop production and so on. 1 appreciate that the people on the land have to battle wi’.h mother nature, which means coping with drought and other adverse conditions. I do not quarrel with that. But what amazes me is that the Government never takes on these shipping companies. The Government has in a very limited fashion expanded the Australian National Line but this was done only because people like Senator Bishop and the ACTU and the maritime unions have been hammering the Government for the last 10 years on this matter.
Returning to health charges, I do not know how much longer we can continue with the present hospital charges. The fact of the matter is that most people are insured to a certain extent against medical charges. Apart from the exceptions which I mentioned earlier we will probably find that the next slug will be hospital costs. 1 am not quoting the thoughts or the remarks of somebody within the Australian Labor Party. I am quoting the illustrious Liberal Minister for Health in New South Wales, Mr Jago, who is well known to Senator Ormonde. I have spoken to Mr Jago in general conversation and he has expressed concern as to what the Commonwealth and the State governments will do in this field. It appears to me that the Government is able to emulate the United States of America in terms of a foreign policy, but the United States has a much more effective Federal agency to deal with drug abuses. 1 do not mean in the sense of adulterations. I mean that the United States is constantly probing the cost of drugs used in that country and manufacture either within the United States or outside it.
This brings me back to a hardy annual, the operations of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. I may be giving a backhanded compliment to the Country Party. Although honourable senators opposite do not like the word ‘militancy’ I am using it now. The fact is that honourable senators on the Government side have been militant very effectively in regard to stock remedies. I would like to see the Liberal wing of the Government enable the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories to move in and, in active competition with the big drug companies, produce many of the life saving drugs which are so necessary today. On the matter of life expectancy there are many pensioners who have a reasonable life in some respects, but often drugs which could make their lives a little easier - and I am speaking of organic conditions - are denied them.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I was criticising the Budget and rebutting some of the assertions which had been made by Senator Young. I do not intend to delay the Senate unduly. I think I have just about exhausted the submissions I wished to make. Perhaps I could sum up the attitude of the Government to the spate of criticism of the Budget with the quotation: They say what say they. Let them say’. Perhaps 1 can link that with a statement made by Professor J. W. Neville, a professor of economics at the University of New South Wales. He said that the Treasurer placed emphasis upon 3 expressions, namely, inflation, equity and a balanced budget. I would respectfully suggest to you, Sir, that the Budget has not met the wishes of the public at large. I repeat that whatever is being done in the way of reduced taxation for those people in the middle and lower income group will be undone by adjustments which will be made by the retail trade in prices to counter the increased excise duty and company tax. 1 referred earlier to the effect that the imposition of an excise duty on wine will have on the industry. I would point out to supporters of the Australian Country Party that the criticism which they should have aimed at the shipping companies because of the recent increase in freight rates has not been made. However, in relation to the wine industry, 1 would say to my South Australian colleagues, particularly those on the other side of the chamber, that the industry is getting the worst of 2 worlds. The fact that there has been no action by the Commonwealth in concert with the States to curb some of the rampant profiteering on wine consumption in restaurants is disgraceful. It may be all right for the Government to impose an excise of so many cents a gallon on wine in order to derive revenue from its sale, but it is disgraceful that the Government has not done anything about the surcharge which is being placed upon wine.
Another point which I made earlier that 1 wish to repeat is that whatever the Government may feel about the policy that the Australian Labor Party espoused at the last general election of a flat li per cent tax on incomes to provide a health coverage from the cradle to the grave it is a better proposal than the intermittent scheme which the Government has introduced. I appreciate that honourable senators opposite may produce tables and compare the Australian Labor Party’s proposal with the Government’s scheme. Where the Government has fallen down is that nobody knows at the moment what he or she will be up for. Even though the Government’s original idea was that the public would pay only a lump sum for a set medical service there has already been a host of exemptions. I am sure that if Senator McClelland were here tonight he would vouch for what I have said. He has had experience as a member of a hospital board. He was also a member of the Senate Select Committee on Medical and Hospital Costs. It is inevitable that there will be a further increase in the contributions to hospital benefit funds.
I conclude by saying that in whatever form the discontent manifests itself - whether it be in the form of industrial action or statements by economists - the Budget cannot be reconciled with the description of Australia as ‘The Lucky Country’. Quite candidly, I believe that the Government has sold Australia short by not increasing mining royalties. I believe that there are many fields in which the Government could have imposed higher taxation. I appreciate that the company tax has been increased 2i per cent, but when one looks at the profits made by Mount Isa Mines Ltd and General MotorsHolden’s Ltd one must agree that some companies could pay more. Regardless of what honourable senators opposite may think about the terrible man who is the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions - Bob Hawke - the plain fact is that he has taken the oil industry on in relation to its capacity to pay. It is remarkable to think that Mr Average Australian has to run the gauntlet of saying in court how much he earns and how much he spends on various things but the oil industry is allowed to be coy about having its own assets rigidly examined.
Everything gets back to the attitude of the Government. The Government feels that if it is too tough on overseas investors in this country it will frighten them away. I would point out that although there is great political instability in Latin America no matter who is in power there, whether it be a military junta or what honourable senators opposite would call a Left wing government, British and American investors are still investing their capital. If they are investing in mining they know that so long as there is sufficient demand for minerals the investment is a good one. Having regard to the price of titanium and other minerals on the world market, I believe that the Government could tighten the screws on the mining industry a little. I am sure that if it had done so on this occasion the Treasurer would have had a little more money to spend and would have been able to increase the 50c a week handout to pensioners. I conclude my remarks on that note.
[8.6] - I rise in this debate to support the Budget. A budget debate is always an interesting one because there are so many subjects upon which one may speak. There are many matters to which I could refer in this debate. However, I rise mainly to inform honourable senators about recent developments in home building activities in Australia, to comment on the prospects of the industry during the current financial year and to draw attention to the very substantial proposed increases in Commonwealth expenditure on housing which are contained in the appropriations for 1970-71.
During the past few months there has been some easing in the level of home building activity in most States, but I am satisfied that this will be only a temporary easing in the longer term upward movement. Indeed, the Government has taken steps to increase the demand for new dwellings. The present check to the growth in home buildings, undesirable though it may be for a number of home builders and home seekers, should not be allowed to overshadow the tremendous expansion in the number of dwellings which have been commenced and completed during the past few years. The number of new houses and flats commenced rose rapidly from 115,100 in 1966-67 to 139,300 in 1968-69. Commencements rose further in the latter half of 1969, so that, despite a small but widespread downturn in the June quarter of this year, a record number of 144,300 houses and flats were commenced in 1969-70.
Let us look at the number of completions because the story of completions is equally impressive. In 1966-67 111,900 homes were completed. Thereafter, completions rose by about 10,000 a year to reach the record number of 140,800 in 1969-70. This represents a magnificent achievement by Australia’s home building industry as well as the suppliers of building materials. At the beginning of 1970 there were signs in one or two of the States of some over-building, as evidenced by a small increase in the number of newly completed and unsold or untenanted dwellings. Although the last year or two has seen a rising rate of growth in our population there have been indications that, at least in a few areas, the number of new dwellings completed has been slightly in excess of the demand.
In the March quarter of this year there was evidence of an accelerating increase in costs and prices in many sectors of our economy. The prices of building materials and building labour were no exception. At about this time the net effect of the Commonwealth financial transactions changed from a situation in which we were putting more money into the hands of the public to one in which there was a net withdrawal of money from the public. Moneybecame tighter and interest rates, including the interest rates on many housing loans, were allowed to rise. We recognised that this would have a slowing down effect on home building activity. Some temporary check to the earlier strong upward growth in dwelling construction was desirable to avoid excessive cost increases.
Signs of a small decline in dwelling commencements began to appear early in the June quarter. Those first affected included many of the larger cottage builders, who had come to rely on a continuing flow of finance from permanent building societies for the sale of their homes. The tightening monetary situation during the June quarter had caused an intensification of the customary seasonal decline in the lending activities of the permanent building societies. The rise in interest rates also had some effect on the demand from home seekers and caused some builders of flats to postpone a number of commencements.
The number of new houses and flats commenced in the June quarter this year was about 7 per cent below the number commenced in the March quarter. This ran counter to the normal seasonal rise in commencements in this period of the year. Flats were affected more than cottages. Between the March and June quarters, the number of cottages commenced declined by less than 6 per cent, whilst the number of flats commenced was reduced by about 11 per cent. On the other hand the total number of dwellings completed during the quarter rose by about 1 1 per cent. This suggests there was little, if any, decline in the volume of home building activity. Although the number and value of new housing loans being approved by private institutional lenders are now rising and the Commonwealth plans to increase its expenditure on housing this year, the effects of the decline in availability of housing finance in the recent past are expected to result in a further small decline in commencements in the September quarter - at least in some States. But by the end of this quarter we expect total commencements to be rising significantly once more.
As Commonwealth Minister for Housing, I am well aware of the adverse effects that the higher interest rates on housing loans are having on home seekers. However, the question to be asked is: ‘Do home seekers wish to pay more and still more for their homes, as they would certainly have to do if the rise in costs and prices had gone on unrestrained, or to pay a higher interest charge for a period?’ I think that most home seekers would agree that the latter is much to be preferred. Of course, some may decide to defer temporarily the acquisition of their homes. Our policies are aimed at checking the rise in the cost of a home, and keeping to the minimum the amount that home seekers need to borrow. Even if the price of a home continues to rise a little, the rate of increase has certainly been slowed down. In one or two States, my Department’s representatives have reported small declines in the prices of some homes.
An up-turn in dwelling construction is likely before long. In July the Reserve Bank announced that savings banks intended to increase substantially the number and value of the housing loans they approve this quarter. The rate of housing loan approvals by permanent building societies is also rising, and I expect this rise to continue. All the available evidence leads me to expect that the level of home building activity will be rising during the December quarter. There is growing optimism amongst home builders. As the Treasurer (Mr Bury) said in his Budget Speech, the prospects for growth in 1970-71 are good. But he went on to add a qualification, namely, ‘provided the call on resources is kept within reason’. I think this should be kept in mind by the building industry.
With migration flowing strongly and the prospect of a continuing high rate of family formation, some increase above the existing level of dwelling commencements is needed. By and large there is no shortage of building materials, but there will be limits on the availability of building labour. Expenditure on non-residential building is at a very high level, and the value of recent approvals for new construction indicate that this expenditure should rise further during 1970-71. Home building activity will also rise. This will be assisted by the expected growth of more than 3 per cent in the work force, which will include a number of migrants with building skills. Nevertheless the Government will continue to watch the calls on home building resources. We wish to avoid a recurrence of excessive cost and price increases that would put home ownership beyond the means of an increasing number of families.
I turn now to consider the amounts made available for housing in this Budget. During 1970-71 proposed Commonwealth expenditure on housing is some $288m, or almost 10 per cent more than the $263m spent on housing in 1969-70. Advances to the States under the housing agreements will be up by about $10m to $142. 5m- a rise of nearly 8 per cent. A further $8m will be advanced to the States to build homes for servicemen’s families. Our proposed appropriation for war service homes advances is to rise from $55m to $60m. This will permit the elimination of the waiting period for advances for existing dwellings that was imposed earlier this year.
– What about those people” who were waiting last year? What happened to them?
– As I said in answer to a question from the honourable senator last week, we are working towards the elimination of the waiting period. I turn now to homes savings grants. Honourable senators will remember that we have increased the value of an eligible home from $15,000 to S 17,500. We have abolished the requirement that savings held with savings banks and on fixed deposit with trading banks must be in accounts designated as Homes Savings Accounts. This will enable more young families acquiring their own homes to obtain a grant of S500. It is estimated that $ 1 4.2m, or $2m more than last year, will be paid out in 1970-71 as grants to young families under the Homes Savings Grant Scheme. In September last year we authorised a grant of $25m to be paid over 5 years to the States for dwellings for single aged pensioners. It is estimated that in 1970-71 $5.7m of that sum will be paid to the States for the erection of such dwellings. The housing needs of many single aged pensioners are indeed urgent and I exhort the States to proceed with the construction of more dwellings for these pensioners as rapidly as possible.
– Where have you started them?
– They have been started in New South Wales. Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.
– What part of Victoria?
– I can give the honourable senator a list. I will do that later because I do not have the details with me now.
– They are for pensioners?
– They are for eligible single age pensioners You will recall that $25m over 5 years was made available to the States in the Budget last year, and I would be very happy to let you know where those units are in the process of being built and of approvals which have been given for construction to commence.
– At what rental?
– From memory the rentals vary from $2 to $3.20. That is in my notes but I should like to check it.
– I should like the information.
– 1 would be very gald to give it to you. 1 was pleased to have the opportunity to open in Hobart the first units that were made available. All the States have accepted gladly this assistance because they recognise the very great need that exists for single pensioner dwellings. The States either have commenced construction of the dwellings, have already built them or have told us of their plans and are awaiting approval for commencement during this financial year. I should like to mention also the provision of housing for Aboriginals. This is another avenue of expenditure of Commonwealth funds. The amount proposed for expenditure in 1970-71 is S4.8m. This is a grant to the States and is 30 per cent more than was advanced to the States for this purpose last year. 1 have mentioned the aspects of the Budget which relate to the housing of people and the increased amounts of money which the Budget makes available in this field of expenditure. Commonwealth expenditure on housing this year will enable an increasing number of those in need of housing assistance to be offered decent accommodation at a rent they can afford to pay, or to receive assistance in purchasing a home of their own. Those who will benefit include, in addition to many Australian families and pensioners, newcomers to this country of ours. In these few minutes of discussion I have endeavoured to direct the attention of honourable senators to what has been done. I believe that as a result of the increased expenditure which is provided for in the Budget we will see benefit flowing in the areas under review.
I oppose strongly the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). This is not a deceptive and negative budget. It does not fail to meet the real needs of the Australian people. I confirm my support for the Budget and my opposition to Senator Murphy’s amendment.
– I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) which is in these terms:
The Senate condemns this deceptive and negative Budget because it fails to meet the real needs of the Australian people, especially with respect to (a) standards of social service and war pensioners, (b) assistance to schools, hospital and urban authorities and (c) restructuring of stricken primary industries and because it introduces and increases taxes and charges of a regressive and inequitable nature.
It is not necessary to look very far in the Budget Speech which was delivered on Tuesday, 18th August, by the Treasurer (Mr Bury) to learn the Government’s intentions. In the second sentence he said:
By these proposals the Government seeks to provide for a large increase in essential expenditures, especially on payments to the States, welfare, development and assistance to industry . . .
Later in the Speech we are told of the assistance that this Budget will give to the wine growing industry. Under the heading Customs and Excise Duties’ the Treasurer had this to say:
In Australia, however, there has been one type of alcoholic beverage which, with a minor exception, has not been subject to excise duty at all. I refer here to wine. Consumption of wine has been rising strongly from yea. to year and, in the light of this trend, the evident profitability of wine production and the heavy taxation levied on other forms of alcoholic beverage, we have decided that a moderate excise duty of 50c per gallon should be placed on locally produced grape wine.
Surely we are not expected to believe that 50c a gallon is a moderate excise duty on wine when we know that there are grades of wine which can be bought for SI. 50 a gallon. The 50c excise duty which the Government describes as moderate represents 33 per cent of the cost of a gallon of some grades of wine. That is evidence of deception in the Budget. The fact that the excise duty has been imposed on the wine industry indicates that no assistance has been given to the industry. On the contrary, the Budget will place restrictions on the industry and there is no doubt that in the future those restrictions will have a regressive effect on it.
In their contributions in support of the Budget most honourable senators on the Government side have criticised the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions claiming that he organised employees and initially called a strike last week in protest against the Budget. Senator Young said today that Mr Hawke had initially called for a strike. That is completely untrue because no strike was called by the ACTU. In fact, Mr Hawke is only one member of the executive of the ACTU which unanimously carried a resolution for, not a strike, but a protest rally. Yet today and at other times we have heard honourable senators on the Government side criticising and condemning Mr Hawke as though he was the one who had called the protest rally.
– What is a protest rally?
– If you had been in Adelaide on the day you would have seen the workers and their representatives condemning this Budget which is one of the worst that this Government has introduced in the 21 years it has been in office. Senator Young also criticised the Leader of the Opposition in the other place (Mr Whitlam) and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate because, in his opinion, they did not pay enough attention to primary industry. If one looks at the estimates of expenditure mentioned in the Budget Speech one finds a vast number of avenues of expenditure - payments to the Slates, defence, mental health institutions, home nursing services, education scholarships, assistance to industry, assistance to wool growers, advances for capital purposes and a host of other items that Senator Young expects the Leader of the Opposition here to deal with adequately and then pay enough attention to primary industry. Estimates of revenue were dealt with adequately by the Leader of the Opposition in the other place and by Senator Murphy here.
– But the Opposition, panicking and in a flap, introduced an urgency motion into the Senate relating to rural industry and neither Leader of the Opposition, here or in the other place, bothered to mention rural industry in his reply to the Budget Speech.
– I intend to deal later with the urgency motion which was moved on 19th August. Returning to the excise duty on wine, the impost of 50c a gallon will return to the Government only SI 5.2m in a full year. It appears that the grape growers in South Australia and in other States will have to shoulder the burden of the S30m subsidy which is to be paid to wool growers.
I am very conversant with the wine industry in South Australia. Contrary to what Senator Sim said in this chamber a couple of weeks ago, namely, that no-one in the Opposition knew anything at all about primary industries, I believe that we know more about them than do many of the Government senators. If they knew anything about the primary industries, those industries, particularly the wheat and wool industries, would not be in the critical situation in which they are today. Time and again we have made suggestions by means of putting urgency motions to the Senate. Even in the short time I have been here 3 urgency motions have been moved by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, proposing schemes that would assist the primary industries. But, as usual, members of the Government parties have opposed any move whatsoever to try to assist the primary industries.
The miserly increase of 50c for social service and war pensioners shows the contempt this Government has for our aged people, most of whom have worked for up to 50 years of their lives to help to build this country up to what it is. Pensioners are expected to exist on only one-third of the weekly amount the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission regards as a minimum wage for wage earners. Mr Justice Nimmo has stated that 250,000 low income families, representing 1 million Australians, are living below a miserably low poverty line. This position is certain to worsen when the effects of the Budget are felt. The miserable increase of 50c for pensioners will soon be absorbed in increases in the cost of cigarettes, petrol and even the wines that many elderly pensioners enjoy for medicinal purposes. Pensions should be increased by at least $5 a week if we are to raise the pensioners’ standard of living to a reasonable level.
The increase in the cost of living in the quarter from March to June this year was the highest for any quarter since 1967. Yet this Budget provides the lowest increase to pensioners since 1967. As a matter of fact, the cost of living index for the quarter ended June 1970 showed that the cost of living in Australia increased by Si a week. This Government can no longer repeat or rely on the old catchcry: ‘Where is the money coming from?’ When we read in the Press that Mount Isa Mines Ltd has made a record profit of $54m and that the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd has made a profit of $59m, we see where the answer is. Those profits alone would give every pensioner in Australia a further increase of $2 a week. Many other companies, such as General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd, Chrysler Australia Ltd, the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd and the various oil companies, to name just a few, have made enormous profits which should be taxed to provide the revenue necessary to meet urgent requirements in the form of better standards of social services, assistance to schools, etc.
– What level of tax would you suggest?
– 1 will leave that to the elected Government. The 10 per cent tax concession to taxpayers is weighted heavily in favour of people with incomes of more than $5,000 a year. People with incomes higher than that receive even greater tax relief. For example, a taxpayer with a wife and 1 child and a taxable income of $60 a week will gain only 60c a week from the concession; whereas a taxpayer with the same dependants but a taxable income of $160 a week will gain $4.30 a week. Over a period of 12 months a taxpayer receiving the average total wage of $75 a week will receive a reduction of $77 a year, compared with a reduction of $348.50 a year for a taxpayer with a taxable income of $10,000 a year and a reduction of $500.20 a year for a taxpayer with a taxable income of $16,000 a year. So again we see the discrimination against the low income earner.
The impost of excise duty at the rate of 50c a gallon on the sale of wines and the 2i per cent increase in the sales tax on motor vehicles and electrical appliances will adversely affect South Australia far more than any of the other States. The wine industry in South Australia has been recovering from a critical situation. In 1965 the Labor Government in that State had to find $500,000 from the State Bank to finance a grower co-operative to crush the grapes of growers who were not receiving the cost of production for their grapes. Following that, a royal commission was set up in South Australia. It investigated the prices being paid to the grape growers and also the prices being charged to the consumers. From then on prices were declared under the Prices Act. I believe that since then the system has worked in the interests of the consumers, the grape growers and the wine manufacturers. The wine industry in Australia has never had to be subsidised, as the dairy, wheat, sugar, wool and other primary industries have had to be.
– The wool industry is not subsidised.
-It will be. Now that the wine industry has recovered and is in a viable position, the Government has imposed excise duty which will have a detrimental effect, particularly in South Australia where 70 per cent of Australia’s table wines are produced. In South Australia hundreds of acres of vines have been planted in the last 2 years and will be in full production in about 3 years. Wine sales, which have been increasing over the last 5 years, will receive a severe setback as a result of the recent impost. This Government has deliberately discriminated against the only primary industry that has survived without subsidy. There is no doubt that the Government will be censured severely by the people of Australia at the next Senate election.
The excise on wine is expected to return $12.9m in 1970-71 and $15.2m in a full year. As the Budget provides for an increase in revenue of $840m to a total of $7,922m, the amount of revenue to be derived from wines can only be regarded as minimal. Federal and State members of parliament have received letters of protest from the Wine and Brandy Producers Association. Typical of the comments was a recent report in the ‘News’ of a statement by the secretary-manager of the Association in which he said:
The tax results from a combination of decadent thinking and an apparent desire by the Government to reduce all primary industries to the begging level. The damaging effect on wine sales could lead to a crisis next year in disposal of the grape crop. The wine industry is clearly being penalised for being self-sufficient - it has not asked for help in spite of a history of struggle.
I believe that that is a very accurate assessment of what all wine producers are thinking, and that the Government should not delay in removing this burden on the industry.
We have been criticised on the basis that we have not been paying enough attention to the primary industries. I do not think that even the primary producers would support that contention. If anyone has not been paying enough attention to the primary industries, it is the Government itself, because it has known for many years - since the record wool price of 132c per lb was being received in 1950-51 - that there has been a continuous and slow decline in the price of wool. But nothing has been done; no attempt has been made to arrest the fall in wool prices. It is no wonder that wool grower organisations and wool growers have been concerned by the falling prices over many years. The recent wool price of less than 30c per lb, representing a decrease of 9c per lb on last year’s average, is an indication of the critical situation facing this important industry. Although wool growers have done very little to assist the industry, the Commonwealth Government must accept full responsibility for the critical situation in which this rural industry finds itself. The failure of the Government to take any positive steps to arrest the fall in wool prices since 1950-51-
– How would the Labor Party do it?
– If the honourable senator would stop interjecting I may be able to advise him as to how the Labor Party would improve the critical situation that is facing the industry. The failure of the Government to take any positive steps to arrest the fall in wool prices since 1950-51 shows the complete disregard shown by the Government for the industry which, for more than 50 years, has been the predominant factor in Australia’s development. Surely the Government will not continue to ignore the real national importance of this vital industry which last year added S790m to our export earnings. That figure would have been nearer $ 1,000m if wool growers had received a proper price for their commodity.
In 1967-68 Australia produced 30 per cent of the world’s total of all types of wool. The percentages of the world’s total of other principal wool producers were: New Zealand 10 per cent; Argentina 7 per cent; South Africa 5 per cent and the United States of America 4 per cent. Production in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, China and eastern European countries together amounted to 21 per cent. Australia’s wool clip is predominantly merino, whereas those of New Zealand and Argentina may be cross-bred wool, while the USSR clip is mainly of the carpet type. Figures released by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics show that in 1967-68 71.3 per cent of wool produced in Australia was of a very fine quality - 60s or finer - and 25 per cent was in the 58-60 group, with only 3.4 per cent below the 50s. Imports of wool by Japan have nearly doubled since 1959. Japan is now buying more than 20 per cent of the wool entering world trade compared with 1 1 per cent 10 years ago. The dramatic economic growth of Japan at an annual rate amounting to about 14 per cent continues to amaze the world and while this rate of growth is maintained Australia seems assured of a market for wool. Australia is now exporting about 40 per cent of its wool to Japan but we should not depend too heavily on that country as a market. We should be strenuously expanding our trade to Asian and other countries, by expert marketing methods, and not gambling on the Japanese economy for an outlet for nearly half of our wool exports. For example. China and India are already buyers of our wool. As a matter of fact, China is now rated sixth in the world of Australian export.
As world standards of living improve, so will the demand for Australian wool grow. What is needed is a vigorous drive for new markets, particularly with the possibility of Great Britain joining the European Economic Community. This Government and previous governments have known for years that the United Kingdom would join the EEC when a Conservative government was returned to power in that country. Therefore, this Government is responsible for any retrogression in Australia because of the United Kingdom-EEC alliance. The political prejudice and discrimination of this Government prevented us for many years from taking advantage of markets in Socialist countries.
World wool production has shown a relatively small increase - less than 1 per cent a year - over the past decade. Over the same period wool production in Australia has increased from about 1.800 million lb in 1960 to an estimated 2,000 million lb in 1969-70. Recent figures show that the production in Australia is well over the 2,000 million lb mark. This estimate of production represents an increase of 71 million lb or 36 per cent compared with i968-69. Reporting on consumption trends during 1969, the Commonwealth Secretariat in London reported that overall wool consumption among the world’s 8 major wool using countries rose by nearly 4 per cent but consumption of other materials by wool textile industries was up 7 per cent due to the increasing demand for artificial fibres. While world wool consumption rose by about 4 per cent last year, according to the report issued by the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, production of wool increased by only 1 per cent. Therefore, it is apparent that if world production continues to increase at the same rate of only 1 per cent a year and world wool consumption increases at the rate of 4 per cent a year the prospects of selling our wool appear encouraging.
The production, sale and distribution of wool in Australia has not changed very much over the last 40 years. The Opposition proposes to enlighten honourable senators opposite on our policy for the rural industries. Most wool growers engage contractors to do their shearing. These contractors are paid about SOc a sheep to do the complete shearing operation including shed work, classing and pressing of the wool. The majority of shearing contractors do not employ enough shed hands to handle the amount of fleeces shorn and consequently, through no fault of the shed hand but because of excess pressure of work, the shed hand is forced to hurry his work and does not have sufficient time to give proper attention to the wool. There is an urgent necessity to improve the preparation, sale and distribution of our wool if we are to meet the challenge from scientifically produced fibres. Competition from synthetics has created the biggest challenge with which the wool industry has been confronted. It is imperative that remedial measures be introduced to overcome the existing deficiencies in the Australian wool industry. The Government has failed dismally to implement effective legislation to assist the wool industry in this critical situation which has developed.
The Opposition recognises that drastic changes are necessary in the distribution of our wool clip and over the past few months it has given the matter serious consideration. Our policy is to establish a statutory authority to acquire, appraise and market the Australian wool clip on behalf of the wool growers. A reserve price would be placed on 1 clip, with provision in the scheme, if necessary, to dispose of wool by auction, private treaty and tender and for bilateral agreements between Australia and other countries. Wool growers are beginning to realise that the only way to maintain a satisfactory price for their wool is to place an embargo on wool exports below a minimum price. A meeting of wool growers in New South Wales, supporting a proposition for an embargo on wool exports at a price less than an average of 45c a lb, is an encouraging sign that wool growers are prepared to adopt a more constructive approach to their problems. I noticed in the Press today that a meeting of the New South Wales Woolgrowers Association carried a similar resolution that an embargo should be placed on wool sold for less than 20c a lb. The Labor Party supports these propositions. It is about time the Government supported them also.
– Why 45c a lb?
– I have, had a lot of experience in the wool industry. The information I have is that the wool growers would be satisfied with 45c a lb instead of the 22c a lb that they are getting today.
– We get 53c a lb for our wool. We would not be happy with 45c a lb.
– I am talking about the average wool grower, which the honourable senator is not. The partial lifting of the export ban on merino rams further illustrates the Government’s complete disregard for the small wool growers. The argument put forward by the wool industry that Australia by exporting her merino rams can help other countries increase their wool production and increase wool sales, and thus prevent synthetics from taking over a larger share of the world textile market, has no foundation. How can it be seriously maintained thai wool growers in Australia would obtain higher prices for their wool as a result of growers in other countries producing more of the high quality wool which represents the bulk of our clip? Any increase in world supplies, unless there is a comparable increase in demand, must inevitably lower the price of wool.
The Government’s decision to lift the export ban on merino rams is very dangerous and if allowed to be carried out will further aggravate the position in the industry. No other country can now compete with the fine merino wool produced in Australia, and if we want to retain this advantage our merino rams should not be exported. Wool growers in Australia must accept the challenge of strong competition from other fibres, lt is essential that we improve the quality of our wool which has been neglected over the years. The high prices previously paid for wool and the fact that we have been able to dispose of our wool clip have been contributing factors in the ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude of the Government.
Farmers should stop blaming arbitration as being the cause of the cost-price squeeze which has placed rural industry in a very critical position. On the contrary, the arbitration system in Australia has been extremely generous to employers in the rural industry. Where farm labour is covered by the conditions of an award, the Arbitration Commission has exempted the farmer from the standard 40-hour week. An application by the Austraiian Workers Union for a 40-hour week for station hands employed under the Federal Pastoral Industry Award was rejected. Farm labourers are required at present to work a 44-hour week spread over a period of Sidays. Senator Sim referred to this matter about 2 weeks ago when he made a trenchant attack on the Australian Workers Union because it advised its members employed in the pastoral industry to work a 40-hour week. I remind Senator Sim that the national newspaper also supports the Australian Workers Union in its struggle for a 40-hour week for employees in the pastoral industry.
– Which newspaper?
– The national newspaper, the ‘Australian’. Station hands are required to work a 5±-day week for only $42.40. If their keep is provided, $9.66 is deducted, leaving the princely amount of $32,74 for a 44-hour week. This is the position which Senator Sim wants to continue indefinitely. Any overtime worked, irrespective of how much, is forfeited if it is not claimed within 4 weeks. There is absolutely no evidence that increased costs in rural industry in any way can be attributed to any significant increase in the wages being paid to rural workers. As a matter of fact, if pastoral workers worked for nothing and if pastoralists got their sheep shorn for nothing, rural industry would still be in a critical position. Honourable senators opposite will not solve the problems facing rural industry by attacking the workers in that industry. It has been very noticeable in this chamber since I have been here that not one honourable senator has mentioned the exorbitant profits that have been made by some companies in Australia. The Budget did not refer to the profits that are being made. These profits are the reason why today rural industry is facing this problem of the cost-price squeeze; it is not because of the miserly amount of $32.74 for a 44-hour week that the wealthy wool growers have paid to their station hands over the years - and I repeat that the station hands do not receive overtime unless it is claimed within 4 weeks.
On 19th August last Senator O’Byrne moved an urgency motion which referred to a reconstruction of the rural economy. As usual, the motion was strenuously opposed by honourable senators opposite. During the debate Senator Sim made a trenchant attack on the Australian Workers Union for advising its members employed in the pastoral industry to work a 40-hour week. Senator Sim apparently supports the feudal nature of the pastoral industry and the retention of the 44-hour week for workers who are employed under appalling living conditions in the outback and remote areas in the Commonwealth. I unreservedly support the Australian Workers Union in its stand for a 40-hour week for station hands and I commend the officials of the Union for their belated attempt to acquire for station hands the same standard working week as was introduced for other workers by the Commonwealth Industrial Court in 1947 - 23 years ago. An editorial appeared in the ‘Australian’ on Monday, 3rd August, 1970, supporting the Australian Workers Union in its stand for a 40-hour week for station hands. It read: ls the 40-hour week really still an industrial issue in Australia? Only, it would seem in the pastoral industry - and that by courtesy of the same tribunal that set 40 hours as the standard working week more than two decades ago. Now comes the inevitable aftermath of the astonishing decision by the Arbitration Commission in June that the peculiarly ‘feudal1 nature of the pastoral industry should place its workers outside (he general standards of the workforce.
On the same day as the Australian Workers Union decision to use force to win its claim for a 40-hour week, coal miners were awarded a 35-hour week.
Anyone with any knowledge of the pastoral industry would know that there is no harder occupation ‘anywhere in Australia than that of shearing. In one instance the Commission granted a 35-hour week, which is 5 hours below the recognised standard working week in Australia, and in another instance the Commission rejected an application for a 40-hour week for another section of industry. The editorial continued:
Would coal miners still be working 44 hours if their industry found it possible to remain ‘feudal’ instead of being forced to modernise and mechanise?
Tactically, the AWU is in the unfortunate position of plainly flouting “iiic umpire’s decision’. But the fundamental nature of the claims makes it quite certain that the station-hands will have extensive public sympathy as well as full backing from the trade union movement. Even in the present troubled climate, a label like industrial lawlessness’ seems to hang incongruously on action to win a 40-hour week.
The fight beginning today in the pastoral industry raises some troubling questions about the arbitration system and its future. If the stationhands had done as the oil refinery workers did, and used direct action before approaching the commission, would they have received the same treatment? If a claim like this can be rejected in mid-1970 can (he unions be expected to show confidence in the system? If not even basic standards can be relied upon, is it likely tha! unions will jeopardise what they consider lo be vital interests by approaching the commission?
Such questions and criticisms directed towards the commission ure based, of course, on the view that the June pastoral industry judgment was palpably wrong - so out of tune with both basic standards and industrial realities that it had to lead to the events now taking shape. The Arbitration Commission is capable of making mistakes. This was one. So was the rather similar judgment recently applying obsolete standards to the question of nurses’ pay.
Eventually, the mistake in the nurses’ case was corrected. It should have been corrected without the intervening four weeks’ disruption of Canberra hospital services, but it was done. There should bc no need in the station hands’ case to paralyse the pastoral industry before a similar mistake is similarly corrected by the Arbitration Commission.
I remind Senator Sim that not only does the editorial in the ‘Australian’ support the struggle of the Australian Workers Union for a 40-hour week for station hands but also that the International Labour Conference in 1936 supported the 40-hour week proposal.
– Senator Sim is the only one who opposes arbitration.
– That is right. At the International Labour Conference in 1936 the Commonwealth Government aligned itself with a union proposition that there should be a 40-hour week. This was supported on the grounds that it would be a means of alleviating unemployment and would further the social and industrial standards of the Australian worker. Although this was supported by the Commonwealth Government in 1936, for 34 years the Government still had done nothing to implement the decision of the International Labour Conference until a strong campaign was initiated by (he Australian Council of Trade Unions and supported by the Australian Workers Union in regard to pastoral workers. Shearers in Queensland in 1946. and in other Stales before that year, decided that
I hey would not work more than 40 hours a week. United militant action by unions to implement the International Labour Conference decision for a 40-hour week was ultimately recognised by the New South Wales Labor Government which introduced legislation to give all workers under State awards a 40-hour week as from 1st July 1947.
After a prolonged hearing and the usual unnecessary delays the Commonwealth Industrial Court delivered judgment on 8th September 1947 granting the unions’ claim for a 40-hour standard working week. This historic decision flowed into Federal and State awards all over Australia, with one exception - station hands covered by the Federal Pastoral Industry Award. Nearly 23 years have elapsed since the standard working week of 40 hours was introduced. Yet we still see the anomaly of a section of workers in the pastoral industry required lo work a 44-hour week. Farmers and their elected parliamentarians who have been in government for 21 years should realise that the continued decline in wool prices is the cause of the crisis in the industry; the crisis has not been brought about by the relatively small increases in costs through automatic wage adjustments. Why should we continue to allow the wool buying cartels the luxury of dictating the prices of our wool? These cartels are obviously operating in collusion for the purpose of keeping wool prices low and will do so while the Government continues its negative attitude to this problem.
What is urgently needed is the complete restructuring of our rural industry, together with a co-ordinated policy on production and distribution of our wool, wheat, meat, etc. This is essential in order to avoid a surplus of one commodity simply because the production price of another is uneconomic! When during the 1960s wool prices’ continued to fall there was a mass diversification from wool growing to the more profitable wheat growing. Farmers were encouraged by the Government to grow more and more wheat instead of being warned of the possibility of a world carryover of wheat which was inevitable. The Year Book of Australia 1969 shows that in New South Wales alone from 1964-65 to 1967-68 there was an increase of 4,469 farms growing 20 acres and upwards of wheat for grain. Farmers continued to increase wheat production and, according to reliable figures, acreages increased from 13.438.928 in the year 1960-61 to 26,796.835 in 1968-69. This increase showed that wheat acreages nearly doubled during this period, with the resultant increase in production over the same period from 273,716,000 bushels in 1960-61 to the record production of 543,950,000 bushels in 1968-69.
The average disposal of wheat over the past 10 years through export and local consumption has been about 300 million bushels a year. Therefore, production in excess of this amount would make it necessary to find new markets on which to dispose of any increased amounts. We should not rely on droughts in China or the Soviet Union; we should be looking for other areas in which to dispose of our surplus wheat. We should not be waiting for some miracle to happen, as apparently this Government has been doing since the record production of 1968-69. What is urgently needed is a complete reappraisal of our agricultural policies. Other agriculturally advanced countries also have considerably increased crop yields over the last few years by using modern methods which have eradicated crop disease and also by using effective fertilisers. The Internationa! Wheat Council estimated that carry over wheat stocks throughout the world would total 70 million metric tons by the end of last year. Therefore it is apparent that the large carryover of wheat is a problem of most of the major wheat producing countries, with the exception of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. They seem to dispose of the wheat that they grow.
While the shipping monopolies continue to charge exorbitant freights the distribution of surplus wheat to the starving millions throughout the world will be deferred indefinitely. The Commonwealth Government should initiate an international conference of the major agricultural countries throughout the world in an endeavour to remedy the current critical economic situation confronting thousands of farmers not only in Australia but also throughout the world. As there is not a world surplus of wool, Australia can go a long way in solving its problem of surplus wheat by introducing a marketing scheme which will give a greater return to the wool growers. Then the thousands of wool growers who have in recent years diversified to wheat growing will change back to wool production. That indicates what a Labor government would do with regard to the political situation in the rural industries. The payment of $30m as a subsidy to wool growers will not solve the situation; it is a temporary measure only which will give some temporary relief to the wool growers who have found themselves in this predicament because we have seen returned a succession of Libera! governments, many of the supporters of which have large rural properties but apparently have no answer on how to run those properties to obviate any crisis that is occurring. It seems that with our policy the Labor Party will eventually be called upon to save the rural industries in Australia from the critical situation with which they are now confronted.
– I was very pleased to hear that the Opposition has a spokesman on the rural industries. 1 was wondering as the debate proceeded whether we would hear anything from the Opposition about the primary industries. I am very pleased to learn that Senator Donald Cameron is quite an expert on the wool industry. Although I could not quite follow what he was getting at, he seemed to have a plan for the reconstruction of the wool industry and a means by which the wool growers could get a just price for their products. As 95 per cent of Australian wool is sold overseas and manufacturers* representatives are at present in Canberra from all parts of the world, perhaps Senator Donald Cameron can convince them of what is required. In supporting this Budget, I would like to say that it has been regarded as a holding budget. The time has come to curb inflation, particularly because of the problems of the primary industries at the present moment. Since this Government has been in power a lot of people have been used to increases in pensions and all sorts of handouts which the Government has been able to give because of the political climate it has created. When a halt has to be called and there is a holding budget everyone is a little disappointed. But this is only when one first looks at the situation. I think that when people start to delve into the Budget and really find out what it contains in the main they will agree that it is a good Budget under the conditions that prevail now.
We have heard a scream about the pensioners. Honourable senators opposite have been talking about the pensioners all the time. They have been referring all along the line to the 50c increase in the pension. At no stage did they indicate the great advance that was made for pensioners in the last Budget. If honourable senators relate the pension to what the pensioners have been getting over the last 20 years they will find that the pensioners of today are certainly a lot better off then they were under the previous government. We may be a little disappointed that they did not receive more but, as I said, this is a holding budget and other sections of the community have to receive benefits.
Although we have a holding budget I am pleased that we have been able to maintain our defence policy. Of course the Opposition is not interested in defence. We have been able to help primary industries, particularly those in Queensland. I am talking about the wool industry which has been in strife because of drought and low wool prices. Because of the wealth and productivity that this great industry means to this nation it is essential that it should be maintained on a firm productive level. For many years the Opposition has been screaming for this, that and the other, lt has been screaming for reductions in taxes. The Opposition says that the Government did not go far enough in reducing taxes. Honourable senators opposite neglect the fact that in order to hand out money it has to be obtained from somewhere. There is only one place where the money can be obtained and that is from the taxpayer. I believe the Treasurer (Mr Bury) did a very good job in distributing the money. He collects it here and hands it out there. We must bear in mind the present conditions of the Australian economy. Honourable senators opposite delight in attacking companies. Today Mount lsa Mines Ltd announced a record profit.
– How do you justify it?
– I am making the speech, not Senator Cavanagh. He can have a go next time. He does not come from Queensland; so he does not know the position. The fact of the matter is that for 25 years Mount Isa Mines Ltd operated at a loss. Since the mine has been put on an economic basis Mount Isa Mines Ltd has been able to increase its productivity. It has acquired a substantial number of Australian shareholders.
– Does the honourable senator have shares in the company?
– No, I have not, but that is beside the point. This company is doing something for decentralisation in our State of Queensland, lt has given employment to thousands of people and it has brought millions of dollars into this country over the years.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Sir Magnus Cormack) - Order! I remind Opposition senators who are interjecting that the senator who has the call is not in the witness box under crossexamination.
– It is all right, Mr Acting Deputy President. I know honourable senators opposite do not like to hear these facts, but that is okay with me. But getting back to Mount Isa Mines: All honourable senators opposite want full employment with high wages from these companies but they hate to see the companies make a profit. Unless we have the production of wealth in this country there will be no opportunity to pay high wages and social service benefits. The productivity and wealth of this nation must be maintained. Profits from companies like Mount lsa Mines are being ploughed back into production. The reason for the S54m profit this year was that the company had an expansion programme costing SI 30m. This is giving employment to more Australians and is bringing more money into this country.
Of course the Opposition does not like this. It wants a peasant community. It does not want to see production and wealth in this nation. It wants to see everyone dragged down to a position where they cannot produce. It is the same old story. If one wants to hand out social service benefits and high wages to the community and maintain the standard of living in this country which compares more than favourably with that of any other country, productive industry must be maintained. Production and wealth must be maintained. They must come first. We are fortunate that over the last 20 years we have had a Liberal-Country Party Government to maintain this climate of production so that industry can afford to pay these wages and provide these amenities. Had the Opposition been in office for that period I hate to think what could have happened.
I tura now to primary industries. I am very pleased to see that in this Budget the Government has seen fit as a short term measure to increase the allocation to primary industries by $77m. As we all know at the present time primary industries are going through a difficult time. This allocation of $2 15m is only for short term relief. We are looking forward to bigger and more complex schemes of restructuring primary industries and particularly our major primary industry, the wool industry. In this regard we have the single marketing authority which is under consideration by members of the Australian Wool Board and the Department of Primary Industry. I hope it will not be long before this single wool selling authority is in operation in this country. I know that for years the wool growing industry has maintained that the best way to handle the wool clip is by the free flow of wool through the auction system. Many people in the industry believe that this is still the only way to sell wool. I think we all have to agree that if we continue at the present cost level and price level for wool we will not have a wool industry. Something has to be done to make sure that the industry is kept on a reasonable economic basis; and this does not mean just bumping up the price. The industry has to be restructured so that the COSt level can be kept at a reasonable basis. This can be done by amalgamation and by all sorts of handling systems. For instance, today wool is handled 28 times before it leaves the selling centre. If this amount of handling can be cut down we will save considerably. These are the ways in which we have to try to handle the wool industry - not necessarily by bumping up the price. If the price is bumped up too high the way is left open for synthetics to wipe out the industry. It is all very well for honourable senators opposite to say that 45c per lb is the proper price for wool and that it should not be let out of the country for less. After all, in any sale, any clip - certainly my own clip - varies in value from 45c to 100c per lb. How would honourable senators opposite sell at 45c per lb under those circumstances?
It has to be worked out on the value of the wool and it all has to be assessed. Ninty-five per cent of our wool goes overseas and if a reserve price is placed on the wool and no one from overseas will buy it who will pay the growers for the wool? The growers will be left holding the can. Someone has to foot the bill of S800m for our wool. I cannot envisage the Labor Party agreeing that the Government should pay the wool industry $800m for the wool and then have it on its hands. We must have a practical solution to these problems.
Earlier tonight Senator Cavanagh referred in his speech to the provisions made in the Budget for the erection of telephone lines in rural areas. Senator Cavanagh said that the increase in rents for telephones would wipe out any advantage to be gained by people in rural districts through these new provisions regarding telephone line. It is quite obvious that Senator Cavanagh has not visited areas in western Queensland. The saving to the people in those outback areas will be considerable. The average cost of installing a telephone line in western Queensland in accordance with the specifications of the
Postmaster-General’s Department is anything up to $800 to $1000 a mile. For example, a person who lives 40 miles off the main line will be saved $9000 - being the cost of the length between 6 and 15 miles from the main line and will be charged only $160 for each further mile. It is not a matter of these people getting some luxury item. People who live 40 or more miles away from a doctor, a dentist and other essential services are entitled to telephonic communications. The savings to these people as a result of this measure will be anything up to $5000 or $6000, which is a considerable amount of money. This saving is certainly greater than all the increases in charges to which Senator Cavanagh referred when he mentioned the $8 increase in telephone rents.
The Opposition is quite vocal tonight in this debate on the Budget. Unfortunately in past years it has been the tradition for elected representatives of Parliament who sit on the Opposition side to be the ones who criticise - and who supposedly constructively criticise - the budget, but on this occasion it has been taken out of their hands and their bosses outside the Parliament have decided that those inside the Parliament on the Opposition side are not capable of convincing the people of Australia that this Budget is of no use. All that we hear in this place are echoes of the vocal rabble outside this Parliament which placed honourable senators opposite on the Opposition benches. I would not mind if the Opposition were to get up in this place and say that it does not approve of these outside actions and that it still believes that the traditional place in which to debate the Budget is this Parliament. In condoning these outside actions, and in some cases members on the Opposition side have assisted -
– There will be a demonstration down in Collins Street.
– This is quite acceptable. To attack Governments is acceptable.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Sir Magnus Cormack) - Order! Senator Cavanagh, earlier this afternoon when you made your speech you were given the respect to which YOU are entitled and 1 ask you to give Senator Maunsell the same courtesy which was extended to you.
– I know that this is a pretty raw point. I have not heard one word from honourable senators opposite condemning the actions outside this Parliament relating to what takes place in this chamber. I wonder what would happen should this Opposition ever take over the Treasury bench. If the Opposition now condones this sort of attack on the parliamentary institution would it then feel that any group which is of the opinion that something done by the Government is wrong is entitled to disrupt the operations of this nation? If this is the belief of honourable senators opposite they should stand up in this place now and say whether they agree that Mr Hawke has done the right thing.
– You need not worry. They will never get to the Government benches and they know it.
– Anyway, the impression I have gained is that they have lost their confidence of ever reaching this side of the Senate through the ballot box and will attempt any other means of obtaining that objective. The Australian public will not fall for this sort of persuasion or intimidation. I challenge the Opposition to stand on its merits through the ballot box. If it allows the disruption of public affairs I do not think the public will ever allow the Opposition to take its place in Government. Very little has been said about the S291 m increase that has been given to the States. This is a considerable amount of money but of course, as is usual, the States are claiming that it is not enough. However an increase of $29 lm in one year is an extremely large amount of money particularly when relief in income tax of about $270m is taken into consideration. Of course there have been all sorts of complaints about this but the fact is that every wage earner in this country will be able to retain more of his earnings in his pocket, and that is all that he is interested in.
– The pensioners get 50c but 80c is taken away from them.
– You are speaking about the 50c as compared with last year. You should consider the difference over the last 20 years. There is still more money in the pocket of the wage earner.
He still has this amount of relief. It is a matter of a 10 per cent reduction in his taxation.
– The average wage earner gets an extra SOc and has 80c taken away in indirect taxation.
– In that case he could not have been paying much tax beforehand. I have not much more to reply to but one matter brought up by the Opposition - and of course everything is thrown into the ring by the Opposition and this is only one of them - was local government. I agree that today local governments do have their problems. However, I have not heard too many solutions from honourable members on the Opposition side which would solve the problems facing local governments. I feel that what has to be done is to ensure that we do not have handouts alone because these local authorities are faced with all sorts of problems in the different areas and they have different cost structures. If handouts are to be made willy-nilly to local government authorities while they have not the responsibility to raise money for themselves we will only get into all sorts of difficulties. This Government can do something for them in terms of interest rates and payroll tax. If money is given them from those sources they will be able to be helped quite considerably. If necessary the Government could subsidise local governments for special purposes - as is done in Queensland - such as sewerage and water reticulation which are required for community living. The handing out of money to local government authorities to be spent willy-nilly on all sorts of grandiose schemes would be irresponsible because the taxpayer still has to pay for it in the end result.
In the circumstances I feel that this Budget is a very sound Budget and it will ensure for the next 12 months some stability in the running of this nation and the productivity about which I spoke earlier and it will also ensure that every person in this country will have a job and a reasonable standard of living.
– Before I get on to the issues of the Budget 1 want to compliment my colleague from South Australia, Senator Donald Cameron, who tonight made his first speech on the Budget as a senator in this
Parliament. I think that all honourable senators, irrespective of their partisanship, would agree that quite a good deal of thought and research had been gone into by Senator Donald Cameron in preparing his speech.
Having said that, I wish to refer very briefly to an interjection which was made by Senator Greenwood and a statement made by Senator Maunsell during Senator Maunsell’s speech on the Budget. Senator Greenwood said by way of interjection that there was no need to worry as the Australian Labor Party would never be in government. It is quite obvious that Senator Greenwood has a very short memory because a matter of 500 or 600 votes in a few seats - no more than A - throughout Australia on the occasion of the last House of Representatives election determined whether the Labor Party would govern in its own right or the coalition would be returned. So it is utter nonsense for people to make predictions of that character. Time has the habit of proving them wrong.
Senator Maunsell made what I consider to be a quite extraordinary statement when he described as ‘the rabble outside’ those people who have expressed dissatisfaction, and in some quarters disgust, with this Budget. The only construction one can put on his statement is that every person, organisation or group that criticised the Budget belonged to some rabble outside. This is a statement which cannot be supported by fact. It is an intemperate statement. If I may say so, Sir, it is a stupid statement. Who are the people outside who constitute the so-called rabble? The Press has criticised the Budget in most stringent terms. The pensioner associations have criticised the Budget. The wine growers of Australia have criticised the Budget. Organisations with which Senator Maunsell is very closely associated have criticised the Budget in most stringent terms. 1 refer, of course, to primary producer organisations, which, although massive amounts of money have been directed towards some sectors of primary industry, have not been satisfied with the Budget.
Finally, 1 want to remind Senator Maunsell that when he referred to the rabble outside which has criticised the Budget-
– I did not say ‘criticised the Budget’; I said ‘caused a strike’.
– The honourable senator did say that. He referred to those people and organisations who said that this Budget was wrong and did not meet the needs of the community. He said that the rabble outside was criticising it. That is what the honourable senator said and that is what will appear in Hansard. 1 remind the honourable senator that, in addition to the organisations I have enumerated which have rightly exercised their proper function in this community of criticising something with which they do not agree, the Young Liberals Association of South Australia, an organisation which supports the Government, has criticised the Budget. Is the honourable senator suggesting that this organisation belongs to some rabble outside?
– I said: ‘Those who cause strikes’.
– The honourable senator did not say that.
– 1 did.
– The honourable senator did not say that. Senator Maunsell should remember that this chamber does not take note of what he meant but what he said. All honourable senators, regardless of what we may say in this chamber in defence of our arguments and beliefs, have to accept responsibility not for what we meant to say but what we did say. In the number of years 1 have been a senator in this chamber I have always been prepared to accept responsibility for what I have said. 1 think I have demonstrated that those who have criticised the Budget outside are by no means a rabble but are a very wide and responsible cross-section of the Australian community. I wholeheartedly support the amendment moved by Senator Murphy in which the Australian Labor Party criticises the Budget.
There are some specific things about the Budget with which I wish to deal in my contribution to this debate tonight, but before I get on to them I shall deal with the Budget in general terms. I begin by referring to part of the Budget Speech of the Treasurer (Mr Bury). The Treasurer said, among other things, that the Government sought to make reductions in per sonal income taxation, especially on lower and middle income earners, estimated to have a value to the taxpayers concerned of $289m in a full financial year and $228m in 1970-71. The Treasurer went on to say: . . we thereby make good - indeed more tbar make good - our undertaking to give substantia! income tax relief to this large body of people.
It is on this point that I take issue with the Treasurer. I say that the Government has not made good - it certainly has not more than made good - its promise to the Australian people that it would substantially reduce the taxation burden on the lower and middle income groups. I submit to the Senate that the main beneficiaries of the remission of $289m in a full year to which the Treasurer referred will be taxpayers in the $4,000 to $10,000 income group. There is no need for me to remind the Senate that the bulk of the wage earners in Australia are not in that bracket, lt is true, of course, that up to a certain figure, as stated in the Treasurer’s Budget Speech, a 10 per cent remission of personal income tax is being implemented but one does not need to be a mathematician or a Euclid to arrive at the conclusion that a person on $8,000 to $12,000 per annum must of necessity benefit much more from any income tax relief than the average man in the street who earns somewhere in the vicinity of $3,000 per annum. Therefore, the people who will benefit most are those who have the most. The ordinary man in the street - the ordinary wage earner - will not benefit as the Government promised in its policy speech before the last general election.
Balanced against these modest tax remissions - and I mean modest in the sense of their benefit to the ordinary man in the street - we find that an excise has been imposed on wine, that increased excises have been imposed on cigarettes and cigars and that increased telephone and postal charges have been imposed. As a result of the increased postal charges alone the Government will reap $53m of the $289m reduction it has made in personal income taxation. In a full year the excise imposed on wine will net the a further $15.2m. The 2i per cent increase in sales tax on consumer goods which were previously in the 25 per cent class is another slug on the ordinary man in the street. Everybody knows the range of goods in this category. It includes motor cars, radios, television sets and a host of other consumer goods which are considered everyday necessities of life to the ordinary person in the community. The increased sales tax will net the Government a further $29m in a full year. The increased company tax will considerably affect the price structure. The increase in excise on petroleum products will account for another $79m in a full year from the pockets of the ordinary people in the community. When one takes all these factors into consideration one can see the confidence trick which has been played upon the taxpayers of Australia. On the one hand the Government has given them $289m by way of reductions in personal income tax; but on the other hand, when all the hidden and indirect as well as direct taxes which are contained in the Budget, cheek by jowl with this remission in personal income tax, are taken into account, I regret to say that the result to the ordinary man in the street is nothing. The Treasurer’s airy statement that the Government has made more than good its promise to the Australian community before the last general election means nothing.
As this is the last speech I will make on a Budget I wish to refer to one of the things that have exercised my mind since 1 have been a senator - the injustices that exist in the field of social services. Honourable senators will recall that from time to time in succeeding debates on the Budget I have referred to existing anomalies in the field of social services. I have always believed, together with my colleagues on this side of the chamber, that the real victims of inflation are the pensioners who have no means other than their pension, and people on fixed incomes. T have in mind people receiving superannuation payments to contribute for which they decreased their standard of living during the years of their employment. I have raised these issues in the Senate many times. Perhaps I am getting a little sick of raising them. About 15 years have elapsed since 1 first drew the attention of the Senate to these anomalies and they have not yet been corrected. I think it stands to the abounding disgrace of the Government that it has permitted them to continue for so long.
One utterly indefensible feature of the social service legislation is that of the benefits paid to a pensioner with a nonpensioner wife. One can readily understand the difficulties that confront such people. In most cases in industry today an employee who reaches the age of 65 year? is considered to be unemployable and becomes a pensioner. This is the trend, whether we like it or not. His wife may be in her early or middle 50s. With the proposed increase the husband becomes eligible for a weekly pension of $15.50. The Government conveniently assumes that his wife, although she is over the age of 50 years, in some mysterious way will be able to find employment in this highly competitive world of today. It is assumed that she can augment the family income by finding a job.
From time to time I act as an intermediary between people seeking work and the Department of Labour and National Service. I can assure the Government that a woman over the age of 50 years without any qualifications has no hope of securing a job in industry today.
– Why should she?
– Thai is n reasonable question. We will come to that presently. I know that honourable senators on both sides of the chamber are approached from time to time by people under the age of 50 years who are seeking employment. Because these people, both male and female, have no particular skills, in many instances it is impossible for the Department of Labour and National Service to find them a position. They are forced to exist on the not too generous unemployment benefit payments which the Government will hand out to them after a period of unemployment. It is perfectly clear that it is utterly impossible for a woman of 55 years without skills to find employment. Senator Georges has rightly raised the question of why she should be required to seek a job, even if the field of employment was open to her.
This Government coldly, callously and calculatingly says: ‘If she cannot find a job, it is just too bad. We say that she and her husband can exist on the miserable pittance of SI 5.50 a week.’ Can any honourable senator opposite defend that situation? Can any Government supporter rationalise it or explain to me its justification? 1 would be very interested to hear even one honourable senator opposite explain to me how that situation can be defended. If no Government supporter can explain how the situation can be defended I would invite any one of them to express an opinion on the matter. Let us get somebody talking about it besides myself.
I turn now to touch on the increase of 50c a week in pensions. 1 have mentioned that pensioners are the defenceless section of our society. In many cases they have no help or means other than the pension. The Government has suggested in the Budget Speech of the Treasurer that they are to receive an increase of 50c a week. I suggest that they are not receiving any increase at al). Again I invite any Government supporter to rationalise the fact that the cost of living for pensioners has increased by more than 50c a week in the last 12 months. Again. I would be interested to hear any methods that could be employed to defend that situation.
The pensioners are not to receive an increase which would permit them to maintain even the situation that existed 12 months ago. One can readily understand the dismay and disgust that swept through pensioner associations in this country when they heard of the meagre increase to be handed down in what the Treasurer has called a holding Budget. I wish to refer also to the parlous position of elderly retired people on superannuation. They are another forgotten section of the community The value of their superannuation has been eroded by the galloping inflation in the community. Like the pensioners, they have no court of appeal. They cannot go to the Arbitration Commission and they cannot protest. They have no bargaining power to use to induce the Government or the community to assist them in their cause. They have to stand helplessly by and watch inflation accumulate year by year while the value of their superannuation is diminished with each succeeding year of increased inflation. I do not think it is using extravagant language to say that this sort of situation will inevitably result in the sinking below the poverty line of about 60 per cent of pensioners and people on superannuation unless something drastic is done. I believe that many of them have already sunk below that line.
I want to refer briefly to Vietnam. Vietnam is very fleetingly mentioned in the Budget Speech of the Treasurer. I heard with approval and pleasure that one Australian infantry battalion is to be withdrawn from Vietnam. I do not wish to bring controversy into this situation but I must say that I believe the Government has been less than frank with the Australian people about its intentions to phase our forces out of the Vietnam war. I draw the attention of honourable senators to the fact that the President of the United States of America has been much more specific about the decision to withdraw American troops from Vietnam. The Australian Government should have been much more frank, not only with the people but also with this Parliament, about its intentions in regard to Vietnam. This country has been grievously divided by our participation in what I would describe as the senseless war in Vietnam. I would go further and say that it is an inhuman war. For that matter, all war is inhuman.
No country can successfully fight a war when the people are so deeply divided, as they are in this country at present. I can understand the dilemma in which the Government now finds itself because of its intrusion into the war in Vietnam. It must either stick with the situation or admit that it has made a mistake. I was in the United States at the end of 1968 and saw the massive dissent which produced a change in the American Government’s attitude to that country’s presence in Vietnam. Whilst I do not want to do President Lyndon Johnson an injustice, I believe that it was not a personal decision to de-escalate and withdraw as the Americans are doing now in Vietnam. I think the decision was forced upon him because of the massive discontent, dissent and hostility of the people to America’s participation in Vietnam.
During my visit to the United States I was able to observe at first hand how deeply this dissent and division of opinion had eroded the confidence and moral fibre of the American community. I know that we hold differing opinions on the matter of Vietnam. We must always hold differing opinions on the great issues of the day. I saw enough in the United States in 1968 to convince me that the American people, as a nation, were against their Government’s participation in this senseless war. What- ever one may say about demonstrations - my friend Senator Webster interjected tonight when Senator Cameron was speaking about the demonstration organised by the Australian Council of Trade Unions in protest against the Budget - there is no doubt that people are entitled to protest. 1 took part in a protest demonstration in Adelaide on behalf of the rural community which Senator Webster represents in this chamber.
– Well, senator, you said it, not I. 1 was happy to take part in that demonstration because I believe that the people concerned had cause to demonstrate. There was a sense of justice in what they did. I do not believe in condemning one demonstration and approving another. One must be consistent about these things. In case anyone should ask me what 1 think about breaking the laws of the country when I say that I approve demonstrations, let. me point out that I mean that I approve demonstrations which are conducted within the laws of the country. I dissociate myself from any demonstration which deliberately and consciously breaks the laws of the country. Nevertheless, if it had not been for the massive demonstrations of dissent in the United States and, to a lesser degree in Australia, in regard to our participation in Vietnam we would not be as far advanced in the matter of withdrawal as we are at present, so do not let us underestimate the value of dissent and of demonstrations of dissent. At the same time, do not let us confuse violence with legitimate hostility to a move which people believe to be wrong.
It gives me no pleasure that this country is so grievously divided on the question of our participation in Vietnam, lt should be a lesson to us, as it has been a lesson to the Government of the United States, that no country can fight a war unless its people genuinely believe in the cause. If the people are not convinced of the cause then the cause itself must fail, and we failed in Vietnam. Irrespective of how history records this matter the fact will remain that our withdrawal from Vietnam will be an admission that we should never have been there in the first place.
I want to refer briefly to grants to the States and the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States. It is no secret that at the last Premiers Conference the Premier of South Australia was noi happy with the deal that he received from the Commonwealth Government. He suggested - this was suggested also by the Press at the time - that South Australia bad received in the financial sense something in the nature of a raw deal from the Commonwealth. I am informed, although I do not have the complete details on this matter, that the Commonwealth Grants Commission has confirmed the fact that South Australia received a raw deal and, while I am not completely sure of the amount, I believe that the Commission has recommended that a substantial amount be granted to South Australia because of the special circumstances which exist in our State, circumstances which Mr Dunstan outlined very clearly to the Commonwealth Government at the Premiers Conference some months ago. [t is gratifying, at least to the people of South Australia, to know that even though they cannot get justice from the Commonwealth Government the Grants Commission has seen the justice of their cause. I hope that my friend Senator Bishop will enlarge upon this matter when he makes his contribution to the Budget debate.
Now let me refer to the United Nations. I had the very great privilege of representing this Parliament as an observer at the United Nations in late 1968. This is one of the greatest experiences that any member of Parliament can have. I say with a sense of sorrow that after spending some 21 months in New York and attending the United Nations practically every day 1 came away with a sense of futility - perhaps a sense of great foreboding, would be a better way to put it - for the future of that great body. When the United Nations was constituted and built on the ashes of the old League of Nations, which was the hope of the people of that day, we all hoped that it would be a tremendous force for world peace, that it would be a council where men representing the various countries of the world could go and discuss dispassionately and in a friendly way the great problems of the time. I regret to say that the United Nations, as I saw it in 1968, was not functioning along those lines. I doubt whether it is today.
There was complete polarisation of thought. On the one hand there was the Western bloc and on the other hand there was the Communist world. Between them was a gulf as wide as the Grand Canyon. It seemed to me that the United Nations, instead of being used as a forum to bring people together to promote the cause of peace, was being used as a springboard of invective and hate, a place where every representative of every country denounced the countries to which he was opposed and the people with whose views he disagreed. I believe in the future of the United Nations. I think that it is the only hope of mankind. From what I saw in 1968 1 am led to believe that unless there is a vast change in its structure, and an acceptance on the part of those who constitute it of the fact that its function is not to divide but to unite, the United Nations could well meet the same fate as did the old League of Nations which failed to give expression to the hopes of the people of that day.
– Do you think that China should be represented at the United Nations?
– Of course I do.
– Especially as Chiang K.ai-shek is represented there. It is dishonest at the top.
– I agree. I think that the majority of the nations represented at the United Nations believe that China should be represented. One of the follies of our time, and one of the things that I had in mind when I referred to the polarisation of ideas which exists in the United Nations, is that people are not considering the inclusion of Red China on the basis of reason and logic. They are considering it on the basis of whether it is we or they. I saw evidence of polarisation, evidence of the fact that on one side it was the goodies and on the other side it was the baddies and that whatever one side said the other side disagreed with as a matter of course. This must of necessity destroy the United Nations unless some means are found of changing the structure of the Organisation and the ideas of the people there.
Without in any way criticising either of the two great power blocs of the world let me say that I believe that any member of the Senate who saw, as I did, the way in which the United Nations operated would be unhappy with what was happening and would hope that those who represent the great nations of the world would come much closer together than they are at present. I think it would be true to say that I heard only about 5 reasoned speeches in the General Assembly in the whole of the time I was there. The other speeches were concerned with either the Western world denouncing the Communist bloc or the Communist bloc in turn denouncing the Western world. In addition there were meetings of groups to determine what ‘our’ point of view will be as against ‘their’ point of view. There seemed to be nobody in the middle trying to draw the contending factions together. This seems to me to be a sorry situation and one that augurs ill for the future of this great world body. I believe that we all should be directing our thoughts to ways and means which, instead of polarising the thoughts and aspirations of peoples, will bring them together and unite them.
I have spoken for about half an hour. I have spoken for a little longer than I intended. I have touched on those matters in the field of social services which I consider not only ought to be corrected but demand to be corrected. As this will be my last speech in a Budget debate, I hope that other senators on this side of the chamber will join me in these protests and demand that whatever has not been corrected by this time next year be corrected. I have not dealt with all of the facets of the Budget. Quite frankly, I believe that it is not possible to do that in a speech of half an hour. There are other matters to which I would like to refer, such as injustices in the field of housing, particularly in the war service homes field. Perhaps I will touch upon that when the Estimates come before the chamber.
All I want to say in concluding the last speech that I will make in a Budget debate in this chamber is that in the 17 years I have been here I have probably put a few thousand words into Hansard, and these may be some of the last few I will put into that long suffering document; but I hope that some of the things I have said, particularly on matters of injustice in this community, have been noted. After all, whatever our political views are, we should be united in at least one common cause; that is. to remove whatever basic injustices exist, particularly in the field of social welfare. I would hesitate to believe that any government would deliberately set out to create situations that would prejudice the position and living standards of the elderly people. So. I hope that the things I have said in this sphere will not fall on deaf ears as far as the Government is concerned. At least I will have the satisfaction of knowing that in the last speech I made in a Budget debate in this chamber 1 dealt with the raw issues, the basic issues, the issues that affect the ordinary people of this community.
– Senator Toohey has advised the Senate that the speech he has just made is likely to be his last speech in a Budget debate. Let me say from the Government side that the Senate will be the worse for not having the benefit of his comments over future years. To me, Senator Toohey is a stout member of the Opposition who has sounded a solid note in expressing the views that he has expressed over the years 1 have listened to him. It is regrettable that he has to say to the Senate that the speech he has just made may be his last speech in a Budget debate. I imagine that the loss felt by the Senate will also be a loss felt by him because I know that he has a love for the institution of Parliament, and particularly for the institution of the Senate. 1 rise to support the motion moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson), namely, that the Senate take note of the Budget Papers. In retrospect, the Budget Papers undoubtedly represent an enormous amount of work on policy matters by senior Ministers, supported by the best advice that can be obtained in this community. That advice is given and put in writing by men who, I believe, have every desire to see the Australian community progress and improve the very high position that it has obtained in world circles as at 1970.
I find myself in agreement with the Budget because, as I see it, the Government has attempted to take the advice received from all sectors of the community. Since the era of Prime Minister Menzies, all sectors of the community have been able to come to Canberra and discuss with the Government labour problems, primary industry problems, mining industry problems and secondary industry problems. Prior to Budget time the various sectors of the community are able to come and represent their views to the Government. I do not know whether that would be the position under any other government; but I am confident that in Australia every major sector of the community has been able to put its view. I believe that, if a sector of the community has a particular point that it considers needs expression in the Budget, on balance the present Government will give it a measure of support. Undoubtedly the Government has given great attention to the proposals for this Budget, which takes us into the decade of the 1970s - and a most important 10 years it will be.
It is regrettable that we heard from Senator Murphy a speech in which he expressed the view that this was a deceptive and negative Budget. I believe that they were purely words which were used by him but which mean very little, because the Budget is neither deceptive nor negative in the true sense of those words. Undoubtedly it attempts, within this free enterprise community - this is certainly not a Socialist community - to lay a basis for the continuation of those policies which have been promoted by this Government and for which a basis has been laid over the past 10 years, whether they be for the growth of primary industry, the growth of secondary industry, the growth of our great minerals industry or to increase the population of Australia by the induction of an enormous number of new Australians to this community. The budgetary proposals attempt to support those policies that have been laid down over the past 10 years. I believe that the proposals will lead to our continuing elevation not only for the benefit of the Australian community but in the eyes of other people in the world.
I imagine that it is difficult for the Opposition to appreciate the problems that we have at the present time. It is regrettable that we find the Opposition commenting perhaps irresponsibly on some of the matters contained in this Budget, lt is regrettable that members of the Australian Labor Party have been in opposition for 20 years now and that, in star-gazing and hoping that they will be in government at some stage in the future, they spell out what I believe is a negative attitude. Indeed, very little of substance has come from the Opposition in the form of positive suggestions as to the way in which the Budget should have been framed. I believe that the Opposition party today is not a responsible party. It is also regrettable that it has not greater strength because no government is sufficiently wise unless it is being prodded from all points, but particularly from the Opposition, as to how it should focus its attention. It is regrettable that the Opposition has no great force at the present time.
Senator Murphy sees the Budget as, in his words, temporary surgery and suggests that the disease still exists. Perhaps I could adopt those words and suggest that there is some substance in the comment that a disease does exist if that statement indicates that there is, as 1 believe, a large level of inflation in our community. Indeed, the Government must take some responsibility for the depreciation of our money value. Inflation may be another word to express the same thought. If we are to seek a basis for the problems which exist in our great primary industries or for the problems which are very evident in the business sector and which are expressed in the very many disruptive actions of unions, then it is to be found in the rate of inflation that we are experiencing. In our rather free community employees go on strike or on extended lunch hours, or whatever the term may be, to indicate their dissatisfaction.
It is interesting to note that many overseas countries have a far worse record than this country has in relation to the increase in cost of consumer goods. As a Government member, perhaps one can take some pleasure in the fact that Australia has not experienced the great inflation that has occurred in other countries. The governments and the people in some of the countries in which such rates of depreciation have occurred will not permit the disruption to industry and the great extra cost and burden which is placed on the community by strike action.
– What is our record of strikes when compared with the records of countries such as America and Great Britain?
– 1 have not read about many strikes in Russia. Probably the honourable senator could tell us about a few of them because he gets a direct record from there.
– I could.
– Are there many strikes in Russia?
– There are.
– The honourable senator can tell us about them when they occur. I doubt that workers in Russia take extended lunch hours. Senator Murphy suggested that ‘whichever way one turns the results of the negative policies of this Government can be seen’. That is quite surprising because today we, as a country, are envied by many overseas countries for the high standard of living that we enjoy. Wherever one turns today, one sees the results of the positive policies of an antiSocialist government over the past 20 years. Undoubtedly honourable senators opposite who are trying to interject agree with me that in Australia today we have a very sound economy which enables the average wage earner, the average businessman and the average industrialist to live in very satisfactory circumstances. Undoubtedly some people, through some disadvantage which has befallen them, need support, but generally Australia compares more than favourably with most other countries. We have less than 1 per cent of unemployment in Australia, for which we can be particularly proud. All of us can bc proud of the policies which have been pursued and which have brought about this situation.
Whilst 1 am a great supporter of Great Britain - indeed, 1 have looked to her for her great motherliness over the period tn which Australia has been growing - during the Socialist era, which has just passed, that country was not able to provide the conditions for growth or the level of employment then we enjoy. The Federal Government alone has not been responsible for this achievement; the thought and drive which are inbred in every Australian citizen and the great fortune which has befallen this country in past years have played their part. There is no basis for genuine criticism of this Government for the policies that it has pursued in the past or for the budgetary policies that it has recently laid down.
– What a lot of flap jack.
– lt is not a lot of flap jack. The honourable senator has been resting and sleeping. Every few minutes he wakes up to say ‘flap jack’ or some such thing. I remember being told about another honourable senator who used to do the same thing. The important thing for one who represents the Country Party in the Senate - I am pleased to do so - was to note that the Leader of the Opposition, when he spoke in the Senate on the Budget, never mentioned primary industry once. He referred to primary industry only when he moved the amendment to the Budget Papers. He used the words ‘restructuring of the stricken primary industries’. That was the only occasion on which Senator Murphy, speaking for the Labor Party, cared to mention the problems associated with primary industry. 1 believe that, while the Labor Party over past months has attempted to draw some attention to the primary industries by pointing up marketing problems - perhaps in an attempt to gain support from some sectors which are disheartened - it has no positive policy for the rural industries. I think that would be accepted generally. The Budget proposals have had numerous challenges. Mr Hawke called for a strike against the Budget.
– That is false.
– 1 do not doubt that the honourable senator agrees that Mr Hawke’s comments were quite false, lt is quite wrong for any man to be urging that a strike should take place. Labor’s attitude, of course, was ‘crush the Government’. That is a fair proposition for any Opposition to put forward, but we have heard nothing positive from the Opposition. 1 support the Budget which, on balance, is an acceptable one. Whilst it provides benefits - I believe some sections of the Community will receive excellent gains - a question arises as to the general planning and the general economic provisions for the next 5 or 10 years which 1 believe should have been given greater attention by the Government. Over the past 3 years, when speaking on Budgets, I have mentioned the need for an investigation into a system of budgeting which does not look solely at a 12-month period. Traditionally governments have introduced Budgets for many thousands of dollars of expenditure for one year. In most instances that is what this Government has done. I am pleased to know that at present the Federal Treasury is making an intensive study of programmed budgeting. I shall quote an article by Neville Johnson in a publication entitled ‘Parliament and Administration’. In speaking of the British Parliament, he said:
Expenditure in many areas of government cannot now be planned and controlled purely on an annual basis. Long term programming has become essential for the efficient management of expenditure and of the projects for which it is provided. By 1961-62 major shift in opinion had taken place and since then the need for forward estimating and the assurance of continuity in programmes has achieved general acceptance even though from time to time it comes into sharp conflict with the exigencies of short term financial policy.
The Minister for Works (Senator Wright) and the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) who are presently in the chamber would agree with me, that Ministers view with abhorrence the fact that they must look to a 12-months programme in their departments. There needs to be a continuing programme spread over a 5- or 10-year period. Whilst adjustments might be made annually, there should be a programme whereby Ministers are assured of finance to run the various sectors of their departments. So I suggest to the Government that it is necessary as quickly as possible to go beyond the present policy and to provide finance on a programme basis, as we see being adopted in relation to State financing today. This Budget provides a 5-year programme for State government financing in one or two areas. Certainly today in education a programme of expenditure is laid down for a triennium or for some other particular period. In this way the various government departments would know where they are heading.
It was interesting to read a comment in the White Paper published by the Treasury. When referring to the Australian economy in 1 970, it said:
Expectations of growth in the seventies have everywhere been running high. The performance of the Australian economy in the inaugural year of the decade will not belie those hopes. Drought in Queensland and Western Australia, lower wool prices and the constraints of marketing difficulties on wheat marred the story on the rural side.
That is quite so, and 1 support the comment. It continued:
The fluctuations in farm output are conspicuous but, inasmuch as they relate to a much larger proportion of the economy, the figures for nonfarm output are more significant. Although the rise they indicate may reflect some cost influences, there can be no doubt that they point to a strongly-rising rale of real growth.
Indeed, the White Paper went on to say that even though there is a problem in rural industries today, the value of rural production in 1969-70 is estimated to have been only 4 per cent less than the record production of 1968-69. That is the present position. I believe that the main problem facing the Government at the present time is to control inflation. On page 18 of the White Paper I noted the following fact:
Control of inflation emerged as the dominant problem for economic management in nearly all of the main industrial countries.
– What did they do about it?
– If the honourable senator read a little bit he would find what they did about it. They were not able to do as well as Australia has done. The White Paper continued:
Upward pressures on costs and prices were generally stronger than in earlier years and tended to persist in the face of counter-inflationary policies.
As Senator Poyser has interjected and asked what other countries have done to control inflation, with concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard a schedule which sets out consumer prices in Australia and overseas and also the percentage increases on previous years. The source of the schedule is the ‘Monthly Bulletin of Statistics’ of the United Nations.
I believe that when honourable senators read this schedule they will see that for the year to June 1970, only one other country, and that was Canada, was able to control increases in consumer prices to the extent that Australia was able to do. I think they will see that countries similar to Australia were unable to do anything about their inflationary problems. I believe that this Government has an obligation to do something about inflation. Indeed, in my speech during the Budget debate last year I was anxious to point out to the Government that I believed at that stage it should have been doing something to control employment in government circles.
Whilst we have the position in which less than 1 per cent of our population is unemployed, which is a wonderful situation when compared with that in other countries, we find that the Federal Government, State governments and municipal governments are placing such a demand on labour that in my view it is detracting from the ability of private enterprise to obtain labour. When there is a demand for labour we find that unions and employees demand higher wages. I think honourable senators will agree with me that in this Budget the Government has demonstrated that it is making a very real attempt to control the growth of the various Commonwealth departments. Indeed, the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Treasurer (Mr Bury) have spelled out that in expending money on capital items and in meeting the requirements for increased labour for the various Commonwealth departments, this Government will not be found wanting in attempting to ensure that there is an evening out of the availability of labour to those sectors of the community which in truth are the sectors which provide the real growth in taxation revenue in the community, which we require to enable Australia to grow.
Honourable senators opposite have said that inflation is one of the matters besetting the pensioner sector of the community. My sympathy lies very much with those people in the community on fixed incomes. I am referring to retired bank officials and to those other retired individuals who have not relied on receiving a pension from the Government but have sought to provide some amount for themselves in their old age. We find that the superannuation or insurance which a man who retired 10 years ago provided for himself has been eroded, and no step which the Federal Government has taken has been able to assist that man. So we see that no encouragement has been given to an individual to ensure that he provides for himself in his old age.
Many honourable senators have mentioned that people shed themselves of their assets and rely on the availability of a government pension. 1 believe that the message contained in the Prime Minister’s words prior to the last Federal election should be followed - and 1 believe that this Government is attempting to do this - and that is that those people who of their own accord attempt to provide for themselves will be the ones within the community who are encouraged. I believe that the effect of inflation on housing costs, business costs, wage demands and the position of pensioners is particularly great. I think that inflation must be controlled by any possible means.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 1 September 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1970/19700901_senate_27_s45/>.